From marginalised to mainstream
It is no longer a surprise that taking necessary climate actions and acting responsibly is directly impacting company’s reputation. Reputation and sustainability are intrinsically linked. What used to be called ‘issues management’ or ‘reputation risk management’ has become so deeply ingrained in many organisations that it is now seen as core business. There has been a visible shift in the way organisations have stepped up after mainstreaming of reputation management.
Regardless of what your company’s 2023 strategy and key business goals are, a strong Climate outcome needs to be a part of them. Because we know that we are talking to a far more aware and conscious consumer, who is fully supporting and buying from fully sustainable brands, your company cannot afford to ignore such concerns this year. Your reputation (and the planet itself), will certainly benefit from better climate outcomes.
Climate Change did rise as a subject only in 2020, where it was not just being spoken about but also applied and adopted. Now is the time to disclose your climate change outcomes. Since Climate change communication itself is at a nascent stage, the ESG Scores are lower when compared to Reputation scores. Although companies are now including climate change risks in their annual or sustainability reports, they are struggling to disclose how climate change may impact their business and how they are responding.
As per a report by RepTrak on 2020 Global Trends in Reputation, there were 10 trends that came as factors that directly impact company’s reputation. Climate change came up as an important trend that reputation leaders citied, as most important for company’s reputation. It is not just on companies and brands but countries and governments are also expected to protect and manage their impact on environmental change. The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contains 17 calls to action for countries to deliver on for prosperity, peace, and the future of the planet.
It would be interesting to learn about various companies and what they do as part of educating oneself. For example I found out that a Brazilian organisation, Natura is the highest rated company when it comes to acting responsibly to protect the environment, and is the only company to have a strong rating on the subject. The company quotes – ‘More than a beautiful speech, sustainability is part of our day-to-day business decisions. At Natura, we measure all our actions in terms of their impact on the planet. From our packaging to ingredient sourcing and operations, we strive to minimise impact on Planet Earth….The three pillars that guide our business [are]: fair trade, conservation of Brazilian biodiversity and trusting relationship with the community.’
Having said the above, it would be advisable that companies do not start ticking the SDGs boxes in order to just up the reputation score. It is not difficult to decode the intent. There are many examples where brands have gotten trolled for Greenwashing. ESG may still be a work in progress in your organisation, but there is a chance to shine using ESG to engage key stakeholders. If we have our road map to ESG in place, we are already on track with enhancing company’s reputation. I am looking forward to making a difference to our planet so we have something good to offer the generations to come. As communicators we have a responsibility to communicate this need of the hour far and wide.
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