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ESG communication isn’t easy. It’s time to acknowledge the obstacles communicators face and work to address them.

What is ESG?
While the term “ESG” first appeared in the mid-2000s, lots of people still don’t understand what it is or what it means for their organization. And if the team tasked with your ESG communication doesn’t understand it, or why it matters, there’s no way your stakeholders or potential investors will.

Lack of Clarity & Consensus
ESG can mean different things to different individuals and organizations. As the Wall Street Journal points out: “Contradictory claims about ESG abound, partly because there is no agreed definition of what counts as sustainable […]” . There are also no defined standards around what can and can’t be classed as ESG. Plus, no real industry consensus on how ESG metrics should be reported, with a number of differing frameworks for addressing ESG issues. All this leads to a lot of confusion... Confusion your communication pieces have to cut through to effectively deliver their messages.

As socially responsible investing becomes more popular, some companies strive to show off their green credentials in order to attract sustainable investors. However, as the Wall Street Journal notes, some companies’ “exaggerated claims about sustainability” mean “figuring out which products and services meet evolving ESG standards isn’t easy.” How can you compete with a highly-impressive (if unsubstantiated) claim, when your ESG initiatives take time to implement, let alone to yield significant results? And how can you get stakeholders to trust the ESG messages you’re putting out there when greenwashing is so prevalent?

Tip 1: Improve Authenticity
Show that you’re taking ESG seriously – bring in subject matter experts to work on your programs and help you better understand the messages you’re communicating. Also, don’t hesitate to showcase your ESG experts in your communications. Why not include profiles on them or quotes from them on the importance of ESG and the work your organization is doing in this area? Or maybe have a subject matter expert record the voiceover for an ESG communication video. These may seem like small, insignificant things, but they can make your messages come across as much more authentic to your audience. Check out how we brought in ESG experts for our latest work for UBS.  

ubs esg communications

Tip 2: Make Data Digestible
Endless streams of unintelligible figures will put off even the most committed sustainable stakeholder. But your ESG data doesn’t have to give your audience – or you – a headache! Visualizing your key statistics in infographics – whether static or even animated – can make internal ESG metrics and KPIs much clearer and easier to understand.

Make sure to head to our brand new whitepaper for more tips on how to improve your ESG communications.

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