Webinar catch up – 5 tips to improve your environmental, social and governance credentials

To support you and your clients with guidance on sustainability and ESG (environmental, social and governance) related issues, last week we hosted a special SME webinar brought to you through our partnership with Enterprise Nation. The session covered 5 important actions which small businesses can take to improve their ESG credentials. We’ve summarised the topics covered in the session in this article or you can watch the webinar on demand.

What was covered?

As part of Aviva’s partnership with Enterprise Nation, we’ve launched Plan it with Purpose which is a free SME educational hub, that provides online events, resources on a range of sustainability issues and a free ESG diagnostics tool. To start the webinar, Kieran Bunting, Head of Partnerships at Enterprise Nation explained the Plan it with Purpose campaign and its goal to support 10,000 small businesses to implement sustainable best practices that deliver a positive impact on the planet, society and the economy.

5 tips to improve the ESG for your SME clients

Danielle Thompson, Enterprise Nation Adviser and Founder of the company Sustainablee provided five key steps smaller businesses can take when approaching ESG:

1.Document the positive impact you want to make

Using a positive impact statement can help to set an overall direction for a business and its employees, setting a reference point both internally and externally. An example might be to improve diversity or help to address social mobility within your industry.

2. Agree simple metrics to monitor progress

Measuring progress helps to set out the roadmap for a business. Doing this can also help to identify exactly what works and what doesn’t. Examples include, energy usage per employee and the percentage of managers from underrepresented groups. If possible, consider ratio metrics rather than absolute numbers so you can monitor progress over time. Set short, medium and long-term goals to stay on track.

3. Improve company travel habits

Consider conducting a travel to work survey to understand where you might be able to encourage more travel by foot, bike and public transport. Based on your results, consider appropriate action such as changing start and finish times, investing in car charging points or providing changing and shower facilities if possible.

4. Help advance a relevant societal issue

In the past, one-off CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives were the primary way a busines could support communities. Today, longer term partnerships and helping in a more holistic way can be far more impactful. One way you or your clients can do this is to identify a social cause their company is well placed to help and partner with. Support doesn’t have to be financial - often skills and time are valued just as highly. Avoid making assumptions about what they will need - ask them what they would benefit most from. For example, a marketing agency could provide one day a month of copywriting time to a local homeless charity to write their newsletter and fundraising campaign material.

5. Increase corporate transparency

Be transparent and honest about how the business is run. No organisation is perfect, but helping your clients be aware of where they need to improve and how they’re going to get there is a good place to start. Focus on the importance of governance; a robust and well communicated code of ethics for example and regular internal sharing of financial results. Consider having external representation at board level or within leadership teams to offer external oversight and diversity of thinking.

You can watch our on demand webinar recording and please feel free to share this with your SME clients.

While we are working towards our sustainability ambitions, we acknowledge that we have relationships with businesses and existing assets that may be associated with significant emissions. More information can be found at https://www.aviva.com/sustainability/climate/

How are we supporting 10,000 SME businesses with their sustainability?

Learn more about our partnership with Enterprise Nation and the Plan it with Purpose programme.

Find out more