Remaining competitive through ESG – Time to thrive.
“Business” is a complex eco system of interconnecting product promises, services, solutions, social impact, and environmental considerations. A business’ strength lies in the building of resilient and firm foundations and requires the right environmental and social measures to be put in place alongside demonstrable good governance in order to thrive – E.S.G 101.
To remain relevant, regardless of sector, you must become and constantly drive an agenda of competitiveness within the framework of ESG. As competition within ESG becomes more and more fundamental to the entire customer lifecycle, businesses will win or lose based on their application of those fundamentals. It has never been more important to ensure that your foundations are strong and your ESG principles and purpose are a north star for your business.
Has your ‘purpose’ as an organisation, truly tackled the fundamentals of ESG and have you set yourself up for durable future business success?
ESG must be fundamental to your end-to-end customer journey and the experience you deliver through your entire business wherever and with whomever. Whilst the standard measures of price, speed, convenience and quality of product/service/solution are still intrinsic to competitiveness, the measure of how well you are delivering your ESG programme, if done in a meaningful, transparent and demonstrable way, will manifest in better value perception by customers, colleagues and the communities that you impact on (hopefully positively). This is the secret sauce to your future success.
Building a strong ESG strategy can not only help your company operationally and reputationally, but should be pervasive across your entire supply chain, resulting in positive impact for the wider world. It is not just about making your company more ‘sustainable’, but rather about driving overall sustainability of your business, which should naturally encompass and answer the questions that your customers, colleagues and communities are asking from you, and in doing so allow you to reinforce the durability and the future opportunity for your business
“Building a strong ESG strategy can not only help your company”
The 3 C’s – Customers, Colleagues and Communities.
Inevitably when new guidance comes in, the first thought of many may be “how much is this going to cost?” The simple answer here is that it will cost a lot more to retrofit later, reduce your competitiveness and erode your business opportunity if you don’t tackle ESG head on, NOW.
Brands need to begin ensuring that their purpose and their actions genuinely resonate with their various “customer’ profiles. We can use the same framework of customers, colleagues, and communities to frame the way we define what a “customer” is, as we broaden our understanding that each and every business and individual that interacts with your business is essentially a “customer”.
It becomes about making sure your supply chain customer/supplier has the same quality of experience that your end customers get; That your colleagues are able to easily live and breathe the purpose of the business and are empowered to make decisions that intrinsically drive the values committed to when you have a strong ESG foundation.
If throughout your End-to-end customer journey, taking into account all the various moving parts, there is a hard line, agreed set of practise when it comes to all parts of ESG, then the standard operating model that is developed will inherently drive principled “planet and people friendly” competitiveness across your entire customer mix. Directly you are creating positive impact and driving the development of industry minimum viable standards for ethical business and consumer consumption. Indirectly, but fundamentally, your business becomes a critical catalyst that drives positive impact through the supply chain. All this stems from being authentic, purpose driven and truly principled in your approach to business.
Get on with the basics:
Vetting your supplier base is easy! Are they environmental? Are they sustainable? Are they ethical? Do their values and purpose align with your own. Is there parity between what they are offering and what your customers want? The curation of your supply chain, and the framework you build should ultimately reflect your business principles and vision, while also providing you what your customers want.
Don’t fall into the mistake of thinking there is a one size fits all. It is critical at this point to ensure that you understand your customer intimately and forensically. Why are they buying? How are they buying? How will their buying behaviour change in the future? What do you need to be building now to ensure the future sustainability of your revenue and drive the durability of your business so you can serve those existing customers well into the future, acquire new customers on the principles of the way you do business and ultimately thrive?
If you can’t answer these questions, then the reality is you don’t know enough about your customers to be able to build an authentic ESG strategy and then practically deploy it.
Your goal should be to not have to talk about it. ESG should become a given not a tactical advantage or a piece of messaging designed to create a competitive advantage, satisfy shareholders etc. If ESG is seen as a short-term solution, then you shouldn’t begin the process. You’d be better off buying in a clever PR agency to spin your un-authentic business practices into a green/white washing strategy while you try and sell the business for as much as possible, before it ultimately fails as purpose driven and articulate businesses eat your lunch.
“Your goal should be to not have to talk about it.”
Brace for creating positive impact:
There is no point in shying away from the truth of the matter. As you begin your journey or as your journey through ESG really starts to bite, and your vision becomes reality, there are going to be cost implications! It’s just the reality. Suppliers who are more sustainable, environmentally friendly, ethically conscious, and ultimately navigate their business world with a planet positive purpose driven strategy, tend to be that bit more expensive. They are struggling with their own ESG supply chain and customer journey, just like you are.
The equation between purpose and profit is not a simple short-term fix, but rather a long-term strategy. This is your greatest investment. What is spent on creating a harmonious E2E business foundation, built on a principled ESG profile, will reap rewards in not just purely operational resilience, but financially as customers and suppliers continue to remain doing business with you long term.
In the battleground that is Customer Experience, choosing not to prioritise and adopt a strong ESG footing will only serve to shorten your businesses future horizons and limit your perceived opportunities for growth.
There is no dichotomy between success and purpose. By encompassing these elements in a durable and future focused ESG strategy you are giving your business more opportunity to survive and ultimately thrive.
Balance the ESG Mix – True authenticity.
Fundamentally ESG works in a tri-part fashion with all elements working in harmony. If one element is not delivered it creates a low-level glass ceiling on what is truly achievable.
If by way of an example you have focused entirely on the S – Social impact – i.e. your appearance and the way you act and impact on customers, colleagues and communities but your supply chain and environmental impact is creating planet negative impact then this undermines everything you are doing.
Being authentic is absolutely critical for an ESG strategy to truly work.
By way of another example, looking at your workforce goes far beyond just the odd discounted gym membership and becomes more about looking after the person’s physical and mental wellbeing, long term.
Sustainable workforce, sustainable business.
Staff retention points to strong business attractiveness which in turn becomes attractive to people who want to do business with you. Optimising the workforce and reducing any wasted effort is critical to durable business success through efficiency gains. High churn is not a good sign.
If the two years of covid have taught us anything, it is that people now know their own personal value, they have become very familiar with their own “balance” and if they are not happy they will leave. Keeping your employees happy, not only keeps that continuity within your workforce, but can save time and money in the long run, and save you from having to look for equal or better talent than you had before. While ‘staff’ could be seen as dispensable to a certain extent, the same can be said for your company! Those who drive loyalty and invest in skills and the overall employee experience will always come out on top.
Getting your business completely ESG compliant, may seem daunting to start with, but once you set out that strategy, it becomes that much easier, and will just be a case of following good practises and procedure.
At CXY we are determined to help our clients become more than ESG compliant! We will help you discover the uncommon truth with your business and ESG strategy mix, find you something that will truly differentiate you in the market and position you to thrive.
If you need help building your ESG strategy, get in touch. We don’t bite, much.