Antoinette Bonita Kamau is the Chief Executive Officer and Regional Communications Director at Commken Afrique Ltd.
In true human nature, we somewhat heavily rely on recommendations in our day to day. We trust restaurants that a friend mentioned to have great service, that salon that our neighbour went to, download apps that have that 4.5 stars and above review, or visit places that we only hear great things about. Subsequently, businesses also rely on reviews and recommendations to survive and thrive. That is why businesses prompt their customers to leave reviews after every checkout, scan QR codes that redirect them to platforms like Facebook to leave a review and comment, or send follow-up emails asking them to rate the product. It’s a known fact that a simple thing as a review can make or break a company. Knowing the kind of profile your business puts out to the world is essential for success. In a nutshell, reputation matters.
But being the best in the business, with outstanding products isn’t enough anymore. We currently live in a world where sustainability and corporate social responsibility have become essential in the entrepreneurial world. Your Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance, is changing what is acceptable and beneficial at the time of investing and consuming. In fact, it is an increasingly important area for brand and reputation management.
The momentum in favour of ESG has made it very evident that it has to be at the core of all that a business does. Failing to implement an ESG agenda not only results in reputation damage but threatens the company’s “license to operate” in the marketplace. Consumers and stakeholders in companies are demanding increased accountability, socially and ethically. Buzzwords like “biodegradable”, “compostable”, “organic”, “natural”, “renewable”, “green”, and “eco-friendly”, are used as a company’s ESG promise and serve as a criterion to assess the company’s performance, which in turn influences purchasing and recommending decisions.
A survey conducted by PwC found that 79% of investors identified ESG risk as an important factor in investment decision-making. 75% felt that companies should address ESG issues, even if it impacts short-term profitability. ESG ratings provide investors with a comprehensive and independent assessment of a company’s sustainability, including its environmental impact, labour practices, and corporate governance policies to name a few.
From climate change to human rights, a long list of hot-button issues falls under the ESG umbrella, but why should brands care about and implement an ESG agenda?
Firstly, the environmental aspect of ESG allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and lessen their negative influence on the environment. It also assists brands in differentiating themselves from one another and attracting a rising market segment that prioritises sustainability. Companies may improve their reputation and appeal to environmentally sensitive consumers and investors by actively tackling concerns such as climate change, waste management, and energy efficiency.
ESG’s social component enables firms to emphasize their commitment to social responsibility and ethical practices. Companies may promote a favourable image and attract socially conscious consumers and investors by concentrating on elements such as data protection, diversity and equality, and fair employment practices. Today’s consumers, especially younger Millennials and Gen Z are aware of their consumption patterns. They actively seek out businesses that share their beliefs, thus displaying a true commitment to social responsibility may provide a competitive edge as well as long-term consumer loyalty.
Thirdly, the governance component of ESG demonstrates a commitment to ethical decision-making and transparency. Strong governance practices not only serve to manage risks and potential legal or reputational difficulties, but they also help to ensure a company’s long-term prosperity. Investors prefer organizations with dependable governance systems because they represent stability, accountability, and responsible management.
Ultimately, by prioritizing environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical governance structures, brands can bolster their reputation, attract socially conscious consumers and investors, differentiate themselves from competitors, and mitigate risks. To build a brand as responsible, reliable, and trustworthy, ESG factors must be incorporated into PR tactics. This strategy not only appeals to socially conscious customers and investors who value sustainability, ethical practices, and social impact, but it also allows firms to tap new markets and expand in existing markets.