What is ESG?

Recently I have been reading the final draft of the ISO Net Zero Guidelines and thought this might be a good time to start talking about organizational excellence in terms of ESG initiatives.

The ESG acronym stands for Environmental – Social – Governance. But you don’t have to be a publicly listed company or a government department to have #ESG policies and programs in place.

Over the past decade I have worked with numerous organisations large and small to help them understand their environmental risks and develop environmental policies. Whilst some have done the bare minimum many are striving to break ground in their industry through innovation and initiatives with suppliers and customers.

Environmental risks come from across your business, and here are some prompts to find yours:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions that you generate
  • Pollution you generate
  • Energy you use and the emissions from the source of your energy
  • Natural resources that you use
  • Natural environment that you damage


Social policies are even more broad, ranging from health & safety to diversity but can be thought of as company culture, or how you treat your people, suppliers, customers and the community. You might have a ‘great company culture’, but have you framed where it is going into the future?

Governance is all about how the company is governed. This extends from how risk is managed, how shareholders are treated, to financial transparency and anti-corruption, to diversity within management.

If this all sounds overwhelming, my tip for you is to aim to be just 10% better. Set out a long-term plan for ESG, then choose just one thing to work on each year to raise the standard slowly but surely.