What ESG means for business: A driving force to create value

Author —Levi A. Vaguez9 mins read05 Sep 2023

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies have become the norm in today’s business world. Organizations recognize the importance of incorporating ESG principles into their agenda, leading to a tremendous rise in sustainable and responsible investments. Investors now prioritize sustainability-focused strategies and assess corporate performance based on ESG criteria. As the prominence of ESG continues to grow, implementing these strategies has become a vital business imperative to remain relevant and competitive in the market. But what does ESG mean for business?

What is ESG?

ESG, an acronym for Environmental, Social, and Governance, is a concept based on the idea that companies that prioritize sustainable practices tend to perform better in the stock market. Several data providers and analytics firms generate an ESG score for companies by including various aspects, giving sustainability-minded organizations a point to compare. These scores serve as a benchmark for organizations focused on sustainability, encouraging them to employ different strategies and methods to improve their ESG score.

What does ESG mean in business?

ESG encompasses three key aspects – environmental, social, and governance – that are integral to businesses. As for a business, this means they must take action to reduce waste, cut down CO2 output, and lower pollution. ESG ensures the fair treatment of workers and communities while bringing inclusivity and diversity to the organization. The governance aspect ensures the smooth functioning of the company, focusing on the systems and processes a company has in place to manage its affairs and ensure accountability to stakeholders, abiding by the compliances and policies. When formulating ESG strategies, enterprises prioritize these aspects to guide their decision-making and practices.

Environmental aspect

The energy and the source a company uses affects our environment, as well as the waste they emit and how they dispose of it. Companies must develop strategies that handle waste management and an eco-friendly way of energy consumption. Carbon emission and climate change considerations are also a part of the ESG score.

Social aspect

An enterprise must have relationships with the general public and communities where they do business. Interacting and providing for the public or local communities increase the company’s reputation. The social aspect of an enterprise encompasses various factors, such as the relationship with the internal team, overall company culture, hiring practices, labor relations, as well as initiatives promoting diversity and inclusion.

Governance aspect

Every enterprise has an internal system of policies, laws, and procedures to make its decisions and meet the directions of investors and external stakeholders. A business must be able to enforce its environmental and social commitments to drive value through sustainability. By integrating these commitments into their operations, enterprises demonstrate their dedication to responsible practices, fostering positive environmental and social impacts while driving sustainable growth.

Why is ESG so important to companies?

ESG strategies are now an inevitable part of business plans. Organizations that prioritize ESG activities quickly win the trust and loyalty of investors, stakeholders, clients, and employees. Here is the importance of ESG in business.

Augmented transparency of business

Transparency of business operations is something that an organization and its stakeholders desire. ESG brings much-needed transparency, as most companies report data on sustainability and ESG directly to the stakeholders. The governance aspect of ESG is critical for investors to consider when evaluating potential investments, as companies with strong governance practices are likely to enjoy better management and more transparency and are more likely to act in the best interests of their stakeholders. With transparency and open business practices, the organization builds trust with its stakeholders, clients, and employees.

Deliver more value to employees

ESG plays a crucial role in building business transparency. But why is ESG important for employees?

The social aspect of ESG creates a value and sense of camaraderie with your employees by ensuring stronger labor relationships with them. Companies that give ESG higher priority enjoy more significant employee retention, satisfaction, and engagement with the organization.

Today, employees and customers expect their organizations to operate with sustainability in their mind. The younger workforce consisting of Millenials and Gen-Z takes over the labor market, expecting sustainability and social impact initiatives by the organization.

According to Nielsen, 80% of the younger workforce prefers to work with companies with significant ESG policies. As for companies, sustainable products earn 5% yearly growth in comparison to 2% of their non-sustainable counterpart.

Attract more partners and investors

ESG plays a clinical factor in creating business transparency. But why is ESG performance growing in importance for investors? Companies with a higher ESG performance score tend to attract more investors due to their typically higher profitability and lower volatility. By investing in ESG strategies, organizations can mitigate the risk of scandals, enhance scalability, and gain greater management control, which are qualities that investors value. ESG performance scores serve as a reliable yardstick to assess a company’s reliability and can significantly capture the attention of potential investors.

Alignment with business standards

Thanks to its popularity among investors, clients, employees, and the general public, ESG is now becoming an industry standard. With the world moving towards sustainability, organizations must align their business activities with ESG practices.

Fostering growth at top-level

Sustainability fosters growth in three routes. Firstly, organizations with higher ESG score earns more public trust and opportunities. Governments tend to trust corporations that strive more toward sustainability, rewarding them with more public contracts. Obtaining licenses and approvals are not tedious.

A higher ESG score also attracts more investors, providing companies with greater capital to enter new markets. Finally, customers are now more environmentally-conscious. They love to purchase or invest more in sustainable products.


ESG strategies provide significant cost-saving opportunities for organizations. By reducing energy waste and optimizing resource usage, businesses can not only minimize their environmental impact but also lower their expenses. Implementing ESG strategies makes way for more energy-efficient operations, hence optimizing the expenditure. Furthermore, ESG strategies prepare your business for carbon-neutral laws, which otherwise can be a burden for organizations that gives lesser priority to sustainability.

Lesser legal tangles

Even though ESG and sustainability are internal goals, companies can face the heat of legal tangles and government sanctions if not meeting particular environmental criteria. When the government passes new environmental laws or notions, enterprises with higher ESG score faces a lesser burden to comply with them as the procedures are already in line with the directives. With an organization following sustainability practices on its own, they are less likely to face legal hassles and regulations.

How should you start working on your business’ ESG policies?

Before you develop an ESG strategy, create a cross-functional team with the qualification to determine and assess your ESG options, hazards, and performance across the organization. You can then implement ESG strategies through different steps, which you can adjust according to your company’s needs.

Set your goals

The prima facie step of creating any strategy is to set goals with measurable outcomes. An enterprise must clearly understand what ESG and sustainability mean for them and their level of interest across the organization.

Prepare a budget

When developing a business budget, it is crucial to align financial priorities with set goals in a realistic manner. Consider your ROI tolerance, targeting the period of financial returns. Some organizations prioritize cost reduction, while some focus on certifications like ENERGY STAR. Understand where you want to recognize your revenue savings and set the drivers of your ROI.

Find opportunities

To create a successful business case, it’s essential to understand the portfolio and asset groupings. Analyze the data collected and turn them into actionable insights. Monitoring routine continuously helps you audit your energy usage and identify the performers across your portfolio.

Build an ESG framework

It’s now time to create an ESG framework. While creating a framework, consider how sustainability plans fit into the overall portfolio and how you will monitor each goal. Identify your preferred benchmarking standards and devise ways to meet them. Asses methods to meet compliance with regulatory changes and report to government agencies.

Form an ESG team

Assemble a team on building a strategy Determine whether you require internal staffing or need to outsource the tasks. If you don’t have enough budget for an in-house team, opt to outsource the sustainability team. Hiring an external consultant is the most time-saving and cost-efficient solution.

Check your progress

Success comes with ensuring your plans stay on track. Constantly monitor your ESG framework and plans to make critical adjustments. Use data-driven solutions for informed insights. Conduct meetings to reckon with your goals, update benchmarks and study the situation. Compare your ESG performance with other organizations’ publically available scores.

What are examples of ESG?

ESG initiatives go beyond mere compliance with government regulations and standards. ESG is a way of making a difference for a business and the world. Sustainable outcomes drive value and generate growth. Here are a few business case examples of ESG initiatives.

Energy and Utilities: Enterprises are investing in renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower, to decrease their carbon footprint and promote sustainability.

Financial Services: Banks and other financial institutions follow ESG criteria to evaluate potential investments and lending opportunities, developing responsible products and services that meet the needs of sustainable and socially responsible investors.

Healthcare: Healthcare companies implement programs to promote waste management and sustainable practices while supporting the well-being of their employees and patients.

Retail: Retailers focus on improving their supply chain management practices, addressing labor practices, environmental impact, and human rights.

Technology: Technology companies invest in energy-efficient practices, promote workplace diversity and inclusivity, and develop responsible products and services that minimize their environmental and societal impact.

Agriculture: Agricultural companies use ESG considerations to improve their farming practices, reduce their environmental impact, and support the well-being of their employees and the surrounding communities.

These are just a few examples of how various industries operate ESG. Companies across all sectors respect the significance of ESG and take measures to promote sustainability and responsibility in their operations and decision-making processes.


It’s peak time for businesses to leverage the opportunities and implement the best sustainability practices. Keen on learning more about what ESG means for business? Let’s take a step ahead in your journey.

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