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Signal Security with thoughtful ESG Communications

By Hillary Plank | March 16, 2022 | 0 Comments

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While to some executives, it may seem bold and potentially risky to communicate about initiatives related to the Environment, Society and Governance (will we be criticized? are we doing enough?), the effect on a vast array of audiences could be just the opposite. Here are three reasons to turn up the microphone and share what you can about your organization’s ESG efforts, even if it’s not worthy of a report or webpage yet – so that your audiences turn to you for a meaningful sense of security (which they so desperately need).

Small steps, in the right direction, are more than acceptable

Consumers want organizations to be part of the solution – not part of the problem. According to the 2021 Gartner Consumer Values and Lifestyle Survey, a majority of consumers in the U.S., U.K. and France (and many Germans) agree that business should take the lead in solving key issues within culture and society. They also say they trust “big brands” more than they trust their own country’s governments. Of course how much consumers instill trust will vary depending on industry, brand and other factors, but the point is that they are looking to you to show them you are leading the way towards improvement, and ensuring a better/safer world in the future.

Decisive action signals certainty, and security

According to that same survey, consumers across the four major markets are following a values pattern around self-preservation, meaning that they aspire to be more secure in their day-to-day lives, in lieu of pursuing enjoyment or discovery. Think of all the ways you can offer some sense of security by emphasizing the steps your organization is taking to improve the environment, champion inclusion or instill sound corporate ethics and leadership teams. Which leads me to my next point:

ESG gives leaders tangible, transparent proof points 

Our recent research into Executive Communications revealed that employees want their executives to be “the adult in the room.” They want stable leadership that demonstrates capability and depth. For leaders, this means it’s one thing to tell audiences how the organization is supporting Diversity and Inclusion, for example, but it’s quite another to literally show them, taking them inside the organizational strategy, sharing key goals, indicators for accountability, and how progress is made over time.

Overall, audiences – whether employees, customers or general consumers – are accustomed to unsteady horizon lines, given geo-political events, a pandemic and socioeconomic cycles that leave everyone reeling from one screen to another. For organizations that have some good news to share, now is the time to put it all out there, and don’t hold back. Be ready for detractors, of course; however, write what you know as well as you know it, and have confidence that audiences will take comfort in reading all about it.


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