Why appointing a planet advocate is essential in every ESG strategy

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Why appointing a planet advocate is essential in every ESG strategy

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) programmes are becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes. These programmes help businesses identify and manage their environmental and social risks and improve their governance practices. 

Every ESG programme should consider stakeholders. This involves identifying all stakeholders that are relevant to the company’s ESG strategy and approach, taking account of their requirements based on needs and expectations. It is important to identify not only obligatory and stated requirements, but also any implied obligations. Most stakeholders include various levels of the company’s workforce, plus part of the company’s ecosystem. That includes suppliers, partners, channel partners, investors and regulators. However, there are a few other stakeholders to consider in key ESG areas. 

ESG programmes that do not consider the planet as a stakeholder are incomplete. The planet is the foundation on which all businesses operate, and it is essential to protect the planet to protect the long-term interests of businesses and society. 

There are several reasons why the planet must be a stakeholder in every ESG programme. First, the planet is facing several serious environmental challenges, such as climate change, pollution and deforestation. These challenges pose a significant risk to businesses as they can lead to disruptions in supply chains, increased costs and reputational damage. Second, businesses have a responsibility to protect the planet for future generations. By failing to take steps to protect the environment, businesses are essentially gambling with the future of the earth and the people who live on it. Third, ESG programmes that do not consider the planet are often seen as incomplete or disingenuous. Investors and consumers increasingly demand that businesses take steps to protect the environment, and companies that fail to do so may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. 

There are several things that businesses can do to ensure that the planet is a stakeholder in their ESG programmes. These include: 

  • appointing a person or group specifically focused on understanding the impact of the planet on the company 
  • appointing a person or group that advises the company on its impact on the planet 
  • remembering that the planet may not be able to speak, but it has a voice 
  • including the planet in any stakeholder discussion, stakeholder assessment or engagement
  • considering every initiative across ESG and asking, ‘What impact does this have on the planet?’. 

By taking these steps, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to protecting the planet and building a more sustainable future. 

If you are not used to considering the planet as a stakeholder, try the following tips: 

  • Include the planet in every single stakeholder assessment completed in any part of the business. Even if it is not relevant to a particular area (on that rare occasion), it can easily be considered and marked as ‘low or no relevance’. 
  • Create a visual cue for people to remember to ‘ask’ the planet about its view on your initiatives. Include another chair at the table that represents the planet. Label the chair if you have to, to remind people to think of the planet as a stakeholder.
  • Appoint a ‘planet ambassador’ or ‘planet advocate’ who is invited to meetings to represent the planet in decision making. The ambassador would be knowledgeable on climate issues and advocate for the earth and its concerns.
  • Have a checkbox for whether the planet has been considered in key documents, reports, assessments and forms. 

By considering the planet as a stakeholder, businesses can not only protect the environment, but also improve their bottom line and build a more sustainable future for all. The key is to find a way to engage with a stakeholder that does not speak yet has a very loud voice if you actually listen.

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