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Unlocking ESG performance data value beyond reporting

In recent years, there has been a noticeable change in how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data is seen. It has changed from being a "add-on" to becoming a crucial chance for businesses to increase their competitiveness.

Organizations are starting to recognize that disclosing ESG data can have major brand and reputational benefits as customers become more discriminating about environmental, social, ethical, and responsible business practices.

However, this is only the start. ESG data has value that goes beyond reporting; when used correctly, it can help a business in a number of ways.

ESG and ESG Reporting: What Are They?

It's crucial to understand that sustainability and ESG are two different concepts. Although the names are frequently used interchangeably, there are significant distinctions. Sustainability essentially concerns how an organization's activities effect society and the environment, whereas ESG is primarily concerned with how an organization's environmental, social, and governance initiatives impact its financial performance.

ESG reporting "includes both qualitative explanations of subjects as well as quantitative indicators used to analyze a company's performance against ESG risks, opportunities, and related strategies," the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) states.

How businesses may benefit from ESG data

Organizations stand to gain a variety of advantages when they approach ESG reporting as more than a way to check off regulatory requirements:

Sustainability and profitability of ESG initiatives are largely dependent on an enterprise's capacity to see how ESG data influences financial and operational data through the use of an extended planning and analysis approach.

Risk management: Ignoring ESG concerns may have a negative impact on a company's finances or reputation. Therefore, it is important for all firms to include ESG data in their risk management plans. They will show that they are taking the necessary precautions to safeguard themselves and their stakeholders from ESG-related risks by voluntarily releasing this information.

Competitive advantage: An organisation can obtain a better grasp of what is important to its stakeholders and spot possibilities by focusing on ESG. Additionally, disclosing ESG data will enable stakeholders to evaluate the organization's competition. If the organisation outperforms its competitors in terms of ESG, this is to its advantage.

Identifying key operational drivers for decisions: ESG data can assist an organisation in identifying areas where sustainable adjustments could increase productivity and make its operations more morally and fairly. The decision-making process can be considerably improved by doing this.

What are the main challenges to effective ESG Reporting?

Some of the most significant challenges to be overcome include the ones listed below:

There are a number of ESG optional frameworks: The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) are some of the more well-known ESG frameworks, but there are many others, many of which are specialised for particular regions or industries. It can be difficult for businesses, particularly those with international operations, to decide which ESG standards and guidelines to follow. When the ISSB obligatory criteria are revealed at the end of 2022, everything will change.

Complexity of data management: Businesses must be able to gather, translate, and process ESG data in order to comply with legal obligations or make voluntary disclosures. The fact that the data is sometimes siloed across many IT systems and is frequently kept in different forms makes this process more difficult. Furthermore, it might be challenging to quantify sustainability.

Lack of ESG knowledge to guide decisions: Many firms struggle to make the connection between ESG data and financial outcomes, especially when it is recorded in spreadsheets. As a result, they are unable to use the information to boost their bottom line and sustainability initiatives.
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