What you need to know about ESG in 2023
One of the top trends in hotels for 2023 – ESG: Environment, Social, Governance
ESG – Environment, Social, Governance is a number one priority for hotels in 2023 according to a survey prepared by JLL in late 2022.1
So what is ESG? And how do you get started?
ESG is going to take accountability for sustainability implementation to the next level and is one of the key ways you can leave greenwashing behind and set you up to be on track with sustainability in a world that cares more than ever.
A lot of business leaders fear ‘doing sustainability’ wrong, so they either do nothing, or they don’t communicate about the actions they are taking. This can be because they worry about not doing it right, being torn down for not being perfect, or not wanting to be accused of using their positive actions as a marketing ploy.
The truth is, your customers want to know. And you can do it to the best of your capability, in an authentic way and communicate it to your customers in a way that doesn’t feel gross.
ESG is a framework that covers the pillars of Environment, Social and Governance.
It’s a flexible framework that can guide how your company chooses to show up in the world across these areas..
Environment is something I talk about a lot and you all know how important it is. Especially in tourism where the conditions of your destination impact directly on whether people will enjoy their stay, remember it for the right reasons and determine if they’ll come back. Preserving the natural environment in your location is in the tourism industry’s best interest in order to maintain quality tourism visitation, especially as we return to travel after the worst of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new normal for hotels is no plastic water bottles, more sustainable in-room amenities, no straws and reducing food waste.
Last year I visited my first “low carbon destination”.
So how do you plan to incorporate environmental action into your company’s business values, model and story?
Social addresses the human element of business. How does your hotel interact with the local community? Where do you employ your staff from? How do you recruit for diversity, equity and inclusion? And what about your supply chain? Are you aware of the Modern Slavery Act2and are you ensuring your supply chain is ethical?
Governance covers business ethics, risk management, anti-corruption and transparency – a really important topic when it comes to sustainability.
One of the simplest ways that I describe ESG is that it’s the framework and importantly, the reporting, on your CSR activities. CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility has been a priority for businesses for much longer than most companies have been looking at ESG. Maybe you do team volunteering days, support local sports teams, buy from local businesses and suppliers – ESG provides the framework to measure your impact and also as a mechanism to determine the return on investment (ROI) of those activities. Your investment might be financial, or it might be staff hours or knowledge sharing or mentoring, amongst many other things. No matter how altruistic you think your CSR is, your company benefits from these and your stakeholders are interested in knowing that impact.
BCorp Certification is one program that comes to my mind when I think of ESG, BCorp address all of these criteria in detail in their Business Impact Assessment, so if you’re wondering where to even start, I suggest taking a look at the assessment for a detailed breakdown of possible factors you can include.
How do you start to prepare your ESG strategy?
The following process is how I recommend you get started.
Get your team together and discuss your values and priorities.
Establish your policy and priority areas for each of the ESG pillars.
Ensure your whole team are educated, involved and engaged on the topic.
Start putting those values into action.
Report regularly on your progress within the team and find ways to report authentically to your external stakeholders.
Review + Refine
Review your progress and establish next steps. (and start from step one again, so this becomes a circular process you perform periodically).
ESG might seem like a huge undertaking but it doesn’t have to be over complicated. Also the sooner you start, the quicker it will become part of your business operations and standard operating procedure. It’s the way business is going, and quickly, so there’s no time like the present to get started.
Want some support? I specialise in team-centric process like defining your ESG strategy, sustainability strategies and team-led company change in the sustainability space. I can help you, just get in touch for my client selection criteria and next calendar openings.
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