How to meet the ESG challenge: some tips

How to meet the ESG challenge: some tips

How did our ESG service come about?

A year ago in BizPlace we started thinking about what we could do to get involved in the big sustainability challenge. We had always dealt with numbers, prospectuses, and data, and we were not clear what active role we could play. As analysts, we asked ourselves, “How can we analyze a company from a sustainability impact perspective?” and so we began to develop our own rating model.

We started by studying the methods of the big international ESG rating companies, such as Standard & Poor’s, Moningstar, and Morgan Stanley, and then repurposed them for the needs of startups and SMEs, which have limited information availability, a smaller history, and also a limitation of time and resources they can devote to these activities.

We have therefore launched an ESG advisory service, to support startups and SMEs in analyzing their ESG impact and commitment to environmental, social, and governance issues while outlining an action strategy for the medium and long term.

We are constantly evolving and fine-tuning, adapting and readjusting. So it is too early to draw the lines of what works and what doesn’t, but certainly looking back on this journey we know what we did wrong. And perhaps we learn more from sharing those mistakes than we do from sharing successes.

So we want to tell you where we fell, so that the mistakes also play a constructive role.

The big ESG challenge: what not to do

So for those entering this world now, here’s what not to do:

  • We have dwelt a lot on the numbers, little on the human factor. Given the financial background we come from, we can see this as a professional strain. We have thought that only if it is quantifiable is it reliable and given more weight to the rating itself than to the frame. In fact, it is necessary to break away from the traditional method of measuring and evaluating reality and invent new paradigms. This is the only way to find different metrics to evaluate from new perspectives, and to which we previously gave no importance. This requires a flexibility in judgment that necessarily values the human factor.
  • We have been afraid to jump in, to make mistakes. The ESG framework is in flux, there is a lack of a harmonized reporting system, which makes it impossible to have an indication of what is actually relevant. In this context, it is not easy to figure out in which direction to go, but surely a good dose of recklessness and resourcefulness is the only thing that allows one to go at a brisk pace, jumping in even with the feeling of going blind and at the ugly adjusting the course, but still gaining a competitive advantage over the hesitant and laggards.
  • We have not given due priority to ESG activity. For a small boutique consultancy, detaching resources from the Core Business to devote them to developing and launching a new line represents a major investment, a risky gamble that one does not know will allow potential losses to be recouped. It is necessary, however, to somehow “throw your heart over the hurdle,” to believe in it and devote time, resources in human and monetary terms, and mental energy. Only then will it really take hold.
  • We were eager to see results: The expectations created did not turn out to be in line with the reality we faced. We thought we would receive positive and almost immediate feedback from our customers and potential partners. In reality, we realized that in the ecosystem in which we operate there are so many more activities perceived as priorities by clients, and the ESG sphere is certainly not among the first No doubt we are witnessing a transition from the “Nice to Have” to the “Need to Have,” a real ESG revolution that, however, must be sustained in its ways and in its timing, and we cannot expect to snap our fingers and have sustainable services and products, respecting the territory, the community and under perfect governance rules. We have to first believe it all the way through, make a cultural change at the root, and it is not enough to adopt new models and practices.
  • And finally, we thought we could do it on our own: a team of young guys with diverse, cross-cutting skills and a strong enthusiasm and awareness that it was absolutely necessary to get out in the field to propose ESG solutions to our network already seemed to us a “self-sufficient” charge: all we had to do was believe in it, and we believed in it, try our hand at it, and we got down to developing the model, and proposing it to clients. Except that then it wasn’t always what they were looking for, or rather, the advisory we were proposing wasn’t enough, but other skills were also needed to really trigger a process of change in companies. And so we started looking for partners with whom we could collaborate, create synergies, and create a “match” of skills to support clients in 360 degrees.

What we learned about the ESG world

And so in fact perhaps we got off to a slow start, from which, however, we learned some non-trivial lessons, which I can summarize with the following key words:

  • Common sense: a measuring tool often undervalued, and trampled by quantitative data.
  • Flexibility: the only means of cushioning the blows, adapting to change, and realigning toward the goal.
  • Intrapreneurship: you probably get lost in the ESG ocean, but between jumping in and trying to stay afloat at least you learn to swim.
  • Investment: challenges bring with them risk, and until you stake adequate resources on them you will never truly win.
  • Mentality: The first change starts with culture. We must have confidence that only an ESG mindset will be able to generate systemic change through local actions.
  • Patience: we can do our best, but it is not only up to us when the results come; demanding them only leads to impatience.
  • Collaboration: as Paulo Coelho wrote,” Choose your allies and learn to fight in company, for no one wins a war alone.”

Here, I would not call this a war, but rather a road we must travel. We are trying, and I hope that sharing our path, with the initial difficulties and changes of course, can have a constructive function for someone and be a guide of where to go to find the least slippery and smoothest path. One thing is certain, we all have to take this path sooner or later, and we cannot do it as mere passengers, but as ESG crew members.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us. One of our experts will be able to help you.

The BizPlace team

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