Why should you be Company of the Year at Global Good Awards? – David Picton, SVP of Sustainability

There's a moment in Crimson Tide – the 1995 post-Cold War submarine thriller – where the captain orders a practice missile drill amidst the chaos of a galley fire. His deputy is incredulous that he would choose to introduce extra difficulties when they were just trying to survive a real crisis. Roll forward 27 years, and some businesses might feel the same about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. Surely, it’s nonsense to work on being a more responsible and sustainable organisation (the practice drill) when they're just trying to survive the economic chaos of the global pandemic (galley fire)?

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Written by: Alcumus
9th February

Not at all … for the most forward-thinking, well-organised and ultimately most promising businesses, this is exactly the time that they are focusing on ESG and working hard to build back better. As the sub-skipper explains in the film, “you don't just get to fight battles when everything’s hunky-dory.”

ESG action is no longer a nice to have, but a must do for ambitious businesses

At Alcumus, our recent research and global client work shows that most businesses have seen a large or very large impact from ESG, and most expect this to increase still further over the next few years. In that spirit, we’re proud to be sponsoring the Company of the Year category in the 2022 Global Good Awards. The Global Good Awards, previously known as the National CSR awards, are all about recognising businesses, NGOs, charities and social enterprises of all shapes and sizes around the world, who are driving social and environmental change.

Whilst there is little doubt that global trading conditions remain extremely tough, there are equally few doubts that customers, the public, investors, employees and a wide range of social commentators have high expectations. These increasingly extend from areas like climate action and environmental impacts, through social value and on to areas of governance like ethics, modern slavery, anti-bribery and cyber-security.

Last year’s COP26 Glasgow Climate Summit undoubtedly raised the emphasis on carbon reduction, but organisations with the most effective ESG strategies are embracing the 3 CBs. They are setting a Challenging Balance (across the 3 ESG pillars) that Changes Behaviours (across their teams) for Commercial Benefit (to their long-term success).

With an increasingly sharp eye on the potential for greenwashing, global customers and commentators expect proof, evidence and independent third-party audit to back up ESG claims. Coherent data visibility is becoming the key antidote to that greenwashing risk, linking disparate operations across complex organisations and their supply chains. In parallel, it's not enough just to track reliable metrics either.

That realisation is driving companies to move away from spreadsheets and manual calculations, and towards one true view of their ESG data through digitised technology platforms.

The ongoing disruption to international supply chains is providing another key lesson from the pandemic. Whilst there are no magic wands to wave over inventory shortages, delivery delays and stockouts, the most progressive supply chain professionals are integrating transformational supplier relationship projects into their ESG programmes. These include pre-verification, compliance processes and genuine two-way dialogue to build better resilience through long-term trading partnerships.

At the same time, surging energy prices and the ongoing instability across the market mean that energy efficiency investments not only feed carbon reduction plans, but also go straight to the bottom line. In that vein, when ESG programmes can demonstrate a profit contribution, alongside benefits to reputation and revenue generation, they rapidly become a ‘must do’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ option.

Returning to Crimson Tide, it might be tempting for businesses to focus only on immediate crises, but there is little point in surviving them if they cannot then deliver what comes next and thrive in the recovery. Somewhere out there, the 2022 Company of the Year is recognising that this is exactly the time to be focusing on and developing their teams, minimising their environmental impacts, building better relationships with communities and making sure that their organisation is run the right way.

As a Global Good Awards judge, I can't wait to read their story. Will it be yours?