We recently joined forces with leading industry Analyst, Michael Rasmussen to discuss what organizations can do to improve the success of their ESG programs.
In what was a highly informative session, Michael covered everything from the transition to ESG from CSR/Sustainability, the what and why of the problems organizations currently face, and ultimately, what they can do about it to make their ESG programs a success.
If ESG is even remotely on your radar, this is a must-see webinar. If it’s not – even more so! If you missed it or want a quick recap, here’s a quick summary – along with links to the full recording and other related resources.
(Spoiler: an integrated policy & training management system is a huge step in the right direction.)
Featured Speaker: Michael Rasmussen
Michael Rasmussen is an internationally recognized pundit on governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) – with specific expertise on the topics of enterprise GRC, GRC technology, corporate compliance, and policy management.
With 30+ years of experience, Michael helps organizations improve GRC processes, design and implement GRC architecture and select technologies that are effective, efficient, and agile. He is a sought-after keynote speaker, author, and advisor and is noted as the “Father of GRC” — being the first to define and model the GRC market in February 2002 while at Forrester.
A problem of company culture and poor program management
Michael kicked things off by talking us through the rise of ESG, the need for organizations to pay particular attention to Germany’s new Supply Chain Due Diligence Act, and the transition from CSR/Sustainability.
Notably, the “Social” aspect can be a particular challenge for larger, multinational organizations as there is the added issue that not all values may be shared globally.
It is important for organizations to be able to see both the tree – the individual ESG domain – and the forest – the interconnectedness of each of the ESG domains (Environmental, Social, and Governance). ESG goes deeper than this: organizations need to be able to see the leaves and branches too.
But most policy and training programs are a mess, often devised without a proper, long-term plan, leaving them looking like the sprawling, nonsensical, Winchester Mystery House – and without a defensible audit trail.
The need for organizational alignment
The most common culprit for ESG program failure is confusing policy and training communications and poor program management – which result in there being too many communications channels, and too many people sending too many messages in too many ways.
To better understand ESG alignment, Michael talks through his ESG Alignment Matrix (inspired by his love for Dungeons and Dragons) – from the Lawful Good “Superman” types, to the “Chaotic Evil” of the Joker.
And we look at the powerful, but subtle difference between accountability and responsibility and the role of company culture. Enron had the policies, but not the culture, and is the most famous example of what happens when this gets misaligned.
“ESG is how GRC gets done”
Having established what ESG is and exactly why it is so important that organizations – of all sizes – get it right, we then look at policies in the context of GRC and ESG, and the need for a Policy Management Hub.
ESG requires a top-down approach and begins with your policies, starting at the Code of Conduct and down through every other policy that the organization has in place.
Policies are governance documents. Policies are risk documents. Policies are compliance documents. Yet lots of organizations don’t even know what policies they have, let alone have a master index of them all in one place.
A “Human Firewall” is essential to ESG as every individual in the company is making decisions, mistakes and (sometimes malicious) activities on a day-to-day basis.
This is why, even when there are well-written policies and procedures, ESG can only be a success if the people in the workplace understand and engage with these policies and procedures.
ESG training and awareness is therefore a critical piece of the ESG puzzle.
The need for a unified company portal for policies & training
A policy is only as good as its communication and understanding.
Establishing a policy repository and informing all intended audiences of how to access each policy is key. Determining the risk-based importance of each policy helps to define the level of communication needed for each audience. Maintaining records of completion and establishing triggers for reminders and refreshers is also vital for ensuring ongoing compliance and safe working practices.
A unified portal for policies and training provides an intuitive, adaptive, personal and accessible hub for employees. A one-stop shop for policies, training, reporting and guidance, it also ensures policies are kept organized and up to date, and provides that all-important defensible system of record for auditing purposes.
The Ekko policy and training management system does all of this and more – ensuring employees can access role and location-specific updates and prompts, anytime, anywhere. Next-generation, AI and machine learning capabilities also ensure engagement through a ChatGPT-like experience when communicating policies and learning opportunities – just ask Ekko.
3 key takeaways and actions
- An ESG program starts by asking what defines your current program and (what) do you need to change?
- Alignment is important – where does your organization sit, and who is leading on ESG across the company?
- A unified policy & training management portal is crucial to ESG program success – do you have a defensible system of record?