Let’s go in order. ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) criteria are a set of factors that imply a company’s commitment to the world.
What is their origin? A few decades ago, it was realised that building a fair society and taking care of the planet would not be possible without the participation of companies.
The encouragement of international organisations and public institutions influenced the collaboration of companies, but what was absolutely determining was the power of the masses. The public began to demand corporate involvement in the world’s problems and began to reward these good actions with their loyalty. In this way, companies understood that they had to generate profits not only for their shareholders, but for society in general, working beyond their economic interests and thus acquiring the social licence to develop their activities.
The first concept to appear was Corporate Social Responsibility, in which companies should be aware of the impact of their activities on the planet and people, minimising risks and being proactive in the search for solutions to the world’s problems.
This approach evolved to find stability in what we know today as ESG and has enabled companies to become major catalysts for change, building social capital by receiving public consent while carrying out specific business operations.
The commitments acquired can even become the company’s identity or mission statement, which also influences its own business relationships: what kind of distributors, suppliers, employees or customers it wants to work with, because of the values and convictions they share and represent.
However, adhering to these principles is not simply a matter of stating them and pinning a medal on yourself. Embracing these goals is only the beginning of a long but exciting journey to achieve and maintain them:
- E (Environmental): Caring for the environment is not an exclusive responsibility of large polluting corporations. Any company, as a complex set of individuals, must promote sustainable practices, both in its business activities and internally. Therefore, this approach involves everything, from major issues such as gas emissions or carbon footprint, to waste management in the working environment itself. It is important to emphasise, once again, that it is not enough to mitigate damage and reduce risks, but to be proactive in seeking beneficial actions for the health of the planet and its biodiversity.
- S (Social): One of the fundamental principles derived from the formulation of these responsibilities was the creation of a fairer society. The task of companies in this regard is not only to adopt a philanthropic stance in support of social initiatives, but also to work in favour of these within their organisation, ensuring the fulfilment of everyone’s rights, promoting inclusion, diversity and equal opportunities.
- G (Governance): This refers to business ethics starting from shareholders and managers and extending downwards. It includes transparency in financial and tax management, as well as fair and respectful treatment of employees, complying with remuneration obligations and protecting their rights. The internal management of the organisation must be a true reflection of the values that are projected outwards, in order to live by what is preached. In short, the decisions of corporate governance must be an example of good practice, so that the rest of the elements that make up the company continue along these lines to show an authentic and coherent culture.