As Australian regulators crack down on businesses making misleading environmental claims, stakeholders have begun to make ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) compliance a much higher priority.
No longer a ‘nice to have’, ESG is now required to thrive in the economy of the future and meet growing consumer expectations, as well as help companies manage key risks and contribute to a sustainable world.
While the issue is complex, founder of anti-modern slavery consulting firm Unchained Solutions, Dr Stephen Morse, believes it’s possible for companies to adopt meaningful environmental practices regardless of which stage in the business life cycle they are in.
“For a small business, it's about setting up the right governance frameworks, policies and work culture regardless of your size. So right from the beginning, thinking through: Who am I buying from? What kind of impact is that having for my business? Sometimes those questions are not easy to answer,” says Dr Morse, who will be speaking at the inaugural E2E Summit to be held on 16-17 February at the ivy in Sydney.
“The earlier you start, the better, because ESG just becomes part of the DNA of who you are as an organisation. That you are - as a business - not just about profit margins and price. It's about purpose and impact.
“When it comes to modern slavery, it tends to be something a lot more distant because most of the exploitation occurs offshore. This is probably the weakest area for a lot organisations and a lot of it has to do with supply chains and where we're sourcing products from.”
Morse, who has serviced corporate giants such as Dexus (ASX: DXS) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) via his firm, also notes consumers worldwide are adding pressure on companies to commit to polices that focus on social responsibility and sustainability.
According to the IBM Institute for Business Value’s 2022 Balancing sustainability and profitability report, 49 per cent of the 16,000 global consumers surveyed stated they paid a premium for products branded as sustainable or socially responsible in the last 12 months.
“There's a lot of consumer pressure. The biggest push has come from concerns around climate change, waste management and recycling. We've gone through an age of excess in terms of fast fashion - there's a growing consciousness around resource usage,” Dr Morse says.
Dr Morse also adds that the failure to implement ESG policies that focus on managing carbon emissions, waste pollution, human capital development, ethical supply chain sourcing and workplace diversity can destroy vital business opportunities for budding and established entrepreneurs.
“It is not just about considering the risk to your business, but also considering the risk to people who are producing the goods or services that you buy,” Dr Morse says.
“As for entrepreneurs, it's about your market agility, licence to operate and [readiness] to tender for business.
“When you come into a business opportunity - whether that's through a joint venture, working with a government entity, big corporate, or pitching for investment with a VC - you don't have to scramble last minute to put together some a sustainability, human rights or environmental policy. By actually having these in place, you are market-ready.”
This is just a snippet of what Dr Morse will discuss in his E2E session. In summary, his presentation will explore:
- How to make a real impact and adopt sustainable business practices;
- How to develop resilient supplier chains, strategic objectives, resource management and more; and
- The consequences of failing to embed ethics in your business: losing reputation, customers, staff, investors and profit
So what are you waiting for? Click here to join us at this two-day summit where Dr Morse will be one of many amazing founders giving their insights to help rocket your business forward in 2023 and beyond.
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