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We recently hosted our first client event this year in Sydney, focusing on the hot topic of ESG. ESG is not only shaping decisions for our clients but also resonating on a personal level.

Our esteemed panel included:

  • John Lydon: Former MD McKinsey, Co-chair of Australian Climate Leaders’ Coalition, NSW Net Zero Emissions & Clean Economy Board.
  • Deanne Stewart: CEO Aware Super.
  • Fiona Messent: Executive Leader Climate Strategy, Policy & Solution, Qantas.
  • Liana Downey: Policy and Strategy Advisor in Energy and Climate and McKinsey Alumni.

They discussed the latest developments in ESG trends, how ESG acts as a driver for growth, whether ESG is an organizational design or leadership challenge, and insights into how ESG directly influences business.

We have put together a summary of the key takeaways from the event:

  • Leadership and Collaboration: Effective leadership and collaboration are paramount in driving sustainability initiatives forward. Leaders should openly acknowledge their limitations regarding ESG matters, fostering transparency and encouraging collaborative problem-solving among peers and external stakeholders.
  • ESG Reporting Mandates: Recent changes from accounting bodies mandate large/listed entities to disclose ESG activities in financial statements in a standardised format. This indicates a growing emphasis on integrating ESG considerations into core business functions.
  • Focus on Environment and Nature Protection: The focus on the environment has increased, with an emphasis on nature protection. However, more effort is needed on social and governance aspects despite recent rulings.
  • Challenges of ESG Implementation: Fear of criticism prevents some individuals and companies from taking ESG actions. Additionally, some activist groups, while pushing the ESG agenda, create a lack of psychological safety for those attempting ESG initiatives – the fear of ‘greenwashing’ is real.
  • Tools for Measuring ESG Activities: Various tools for measuring ESG activities were discussed, such as carbon footprint audits and nature risk audits, indicating a growing awareness of the need for comprehensive ESG assessment.
  • Investment in ESG Education: Deanne mentioned Aware Super’s investment in upskilling through the PRI Academy course for ESG training, highlighting the importance of continued education in driving ESG progress.
  • Increased Awareness of Biodiversity: John, in his role as chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation, has become more educated about biodiversity and its significance. He highlighted Australia’s biodiversity climate and the alarming rate of habitat clearance.
  • Nature Disclosure: There is a growing understanding of the link between nature and climate, and the need for nature disclosure to be included on the agenda. However, the current system does not adequately recognise this connection.
  • Corporate Awareness and Systemic Change: The panel discussed whether companies are aware of the impending challenges related to nature and whether they are making genuine efforts to address them. The need for systemic change was emphasised, especially in industries where profits are derived from activities harmful to nature.
  • Nature Risk Assessment and Strategy: Fiona spoke about Qantas’ nature risk assessment and upcoming nature strategy. She emphasised the importance of assessing the impact of operations on nature and integrating this into business decisions.
  • Challenges and Solutions for ESG Reporting: The panel touched on challenges and innovations in ESG reporting. Standardisation of reporting formats is crucial for investors to compare and evaluate companies effectively. Digital solutions and AI were mentioned as tools to improve data collection and analysis.
  • Social Issues and Gender Equality: Social issues such as mental health, workers’ rights, and gender equality are highlighted as important focus areas for businesses. The need for transparent reporting on gender pay gaps and addressing gendered norms in workplaces.
  • Motivating Companies for Change: Encouraging companies to adopt sustainable practices requires a combination of education, incentives, and engagement at all levels of the organisation. Boards and senior leadership play a crucial role in driving change, supported by investor pressure and transparent reporting.

We have made the Strategy Bites podcast episodes available for you to listen to at your convenience. You can access them here:

The event was a tremendous success, and we’re thrilled to announce that this is just the beginning.

We have a team of ESG specialist contractors who are available to assist you with your company’s ESG strategies. If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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