Blog post

5 Insights Your Organization Can Gain from an ESG Solution

By Timothy Kirby

Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) disclosures have become increasingly sought after in the last 5 years, with heavy forecasted growth expected in the coming two to three.

What is ESG and why is it important?

ESG encompasses an organization’s approach towards sustainability measures such as environmental impact, gender diversity and inclusivity initiatives, and adherence to corporate governance. In recent years, public attention placed on corporate responsibility has emphasized the organizational need for ESG policy. This growing focus on ESG is transforming the ways that investors and consumers engage with businesses. In fact, 85% of investors cite ESG as a factor when examining the viability of an organization and over 80% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company that stands for ESG-driven goals.

In response to the accelerating wave of public interest, compliance regulations and policies surrounding ESG standards continue to become more stringent and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has started to roll out mandatory ESG disclosures, beginning with environmental impact reporting. It is expected that companies will be required to provide evidence of discourse related to: 

  • Corporate Employee & Management Diversity

  • Environmental Impact and Carbon Footprint Assessment

  • Human Capital Management

It’s easy to get lost in all of the corporate requirements, frameworks, and propositions, so to help, we’ve outlined five ways an ESG planning and reporting solution can help you sift through the abstract nature of these initiatives and gain a clear understanding of the new standards surrounding this multifaceted topic.

1. Establish key areas of focus relevant to your organization 

To cater to your organization’s specific ESG needs, it is important to keep sight of the metrics that are most impactful to you and your day-to-day operations. A successful ESG solution should enable us to do just that.

Within an ESG framework, there are a wide variety of goals and targets that can be linked to your operations. These might include evaluating your business’s carbon footprint, measuring diversity initiatives with employee demographic data, or tracking overall employee satisfaction. 

Having the flexibility to pick and choose the relevant ESG metrics that most closely align with your business processes is a pivotal planning feature. This allows your organization to prioritize, track, and feed the goals that are most relevant to your operations, which will lead to both greater functionality and increased flexibility for your ESG planning and reporting. 

2. Create full alignment between your hiring process, workforce planning, and organization's ESG standards 

Once you’ve established your key areas of ESG focus, you must ensure your goals are connected to tangible, actionable data. For example, if you’ve selected a social goal of attaining an even employee ratio of men and women by 2025, you should plan to connect your current workforce planning data to your overall targeted goal. This will give you the capability to measure where you are against where you want to be.

By pulling in your targeted ESG goal, your current workforce plan, and your desired headcount into one centralized planning solution, you can evaluate your current status against your target and plan out your projected workforce decisions to meet and exceed future ESG goals.

3. Unlock greater visibility into your organization’s carbon footprint 

Regardless of your industry or vertical, considering how your business interacts with the environment is a key component of ESG planning and reporting. For some organizations, it’s easy to imagine how operations impact the environment - land or water use might be a direct part of your business. Other organizations may find this aspect of ESG planning a bit more ambiguous. Less obvious environmental impacts might include indirect emissions from organizational travel and delivery, impacts of purchased goods and services, or even electricity usage. Having the visibility to trace your environmental impact back to its source and understanding how to act upon it can be a long, convoluted string to follow. An ESG solution can demystify this process and establish congruency across the organization with respect to environmental understanding. 

Equip your ESG solution with the functionality to quickly connect your high-impact areas to available financial planning capabilities, helping the organization to understand and target different types of emissions.  

4. Establish Reporting Efficiencies for ESG Metrics 

Navigating the shifting waters of ESG Reporting can be a bit overwhelming, especially when compliance and industry standards seem to change often. An effective and efficient ESG report should pull your organization’s latest data into succinct, regulated formats, such as those recommended by the SEC and other compliance regulatory agencies. 

Compiling and formatting data across systems can be a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Organizations can alleviate these pain points by leveraging a tool such as Workiva and its framework-agnostic platform. Workiva is equipped with a little to no code integration setup, which allows for organizations to sync in real time to data sources that house ESG data. With this synchronization, your planned ESG data is pulled into reporting decks, documents, and auto-formatted according to your needs based on existing ESG reporting templates. 

5. Connect your organization's financial goals to ESG goals 

To holistically interpret your ESG targets, you must layer them underneath the context of your overall organizational financial goals. Targeting instantaneous widespread carbon emissions reductions or hiring 100 people in the next year means very little to us unless we factor in the financial feasibility of doing so. Anaplan allows us to integrate your ESG metrics with an existing financial planning landscape or pull in FP&A data to provide a centralized budgetary repository that drives us towards ESG success.

You can highlight certain budgetary restrictions on hiring, tag financial accounts to your targeted ESG metrics, and factor these amounts into your overall plan. This closes the gap between ESG planning and reporting, creating financial alignment across your organization.

In the attached video, you can get a glimpse into a few of the above insights within a modeled solution combining the connected planning capabilities in Anaplan with Workiva’s seamless reporting capacities.

For more information on ESG solutions or on developing a tailored ESG approach, please reach out to epm@keyrus.com.

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