Pretty reports and superficial initiatives aren’t enough to make a real impact at ESG level. A real commitment to sustainability can attract relevant talent.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in awareness of the importance of corporate sustainability, environmental, social and governance (ESG) responsibility. Companies are under pressure to adopt more sustainable practices and to communicate their efforts in these areas. However, it is crucial to realise that being a truly sustainable company goes beyond using marketing as a measure for the lack of effective implementation of ESG principles. Pretty reports and superficial initiatives are not enough to create a real impact.
Authenticity is the key to a genuine sustainable approach and marketing is all the better for the truth. Companies must demonstrate a sincere commitment to sustainability in all areas of their operation. This involves adopting environmentally conscious practices, promoting an inclusive and equitable culture, establishing transparent and accountable governance policies, and actively engaging with stakeholders.
A truly sustainable company incorporates sustainability into its vision, mission and corporate strategy, and not into a separate dossier to deal with exceptions. By this I mean that sustainability cannot be treated as an isolated activity, but as a guiding and basic principle that rigorously permeates all the company’s decisions and actions. From the supply chain to human resources practices, everything.
But an authentic approach can actually be more beneficial than you might think. It’s not just a question of a good reputation, but the opportunity to reap many benefits. Customers and consumers are becoming increasingly aware and therefore prefer to select companies that already demonstrate an effective commitment to sustainability. In other words, it’s a case where the truth implemented will not only bring a reputation, but a driver for attracting and retaining customers who value sustainable endeavours.
In the real estate market, for example, it is the tenants (the brands) who demand that landlords and/or developers comply with a series of criteria that meet their codes of conduct and ESG, thus allowing them to occupy a space that also meets the values of their company/brand. It’s the same for investors, who are increasingly interested in backing companies that incorporate ESG into their business strategy and so companies can attract investors who are aligned with their sustainable values and objectives, thus strengthening their financial position and their ability to grow.
I couldn’t finish without mentioning another important and sometimes underestimated benefit, which is the relationship between employees and companies. Talent retention is fundamental to the success of organisations and plays a crucial role in the implementation of sustainable practices. A real commitment to sustainability can attract relevant talent with an informed and demanding profile, who will therefore also be an increasingly decisive criterion for creating a positive, purpose-orientated corporate culture.
But the journey towards authentic sustainability isn’t easy and it’s not just green. It has many colours. It has the colour of truth. It requires time, effort and a genuine commitment from leadership and all levels of the organisation. The future is now and it involves investing in education, training and resources to empower people and companies about sustainability and then asking marketing to ensure its implementation and communication. As our English friends say, “we must walk the talk”!
Opinion article by Adriana Coutinho, Head of Marketing & Communication, published in ECO Sapo on 17 July 2023