At RSM, we recognise that every ESG journey is different. We’ve helped businesses across many industries identify their impact points, improve their corporate risk management and drive stakeholder value. By paying attention to the smallest details, we bring difference through understanding to help you build lasting value and confidence in your sustainability approach.
In a world of change, it is more important than ever that businesses take ownership of and control over their impact on the environment, the communities in which they operate, their employees and supply chains. Increasingly, investors, regulators, media, clients and other stakeholders are demanding organisations not only understand the impact they make but consider how they report on it.
If businesses want to thrive, they will adapt, embrace the change and take responsibility for building a sustainable and ethical future. This can include key initiatives from diversity and inclusion programmes to environmental reporting. Tomorrow’s success relies on today’s actions. Advocating and actioning positive change is no longer an option, it is a necessity as businesses are increasingly held responsible for the mark they make on the world.
With every ESG journey being different, with a global reach and tailored approach, RSM is here to help you create lasting value and confidence through sustainability in your organisation.
Elevate your business through ESG
We can facilitate the alignment of your ESG initiatives with your firm's overarching strategy, thereby ensuring your competitiveness and future-readiness, especially concerning due diligence. This alignment will also bolster your capacity to attract top talent and promote sustainability. Some of the services that we can assist clients with in achieving their ESG objectives include:
ESG: How the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards could impact the middle market
“All businesses are different, so there is no one-size fits-all approach when it comes to sustainability. Processes have been developed to guide business thoughout their entire ESG journey, with the first step being an assessment of ESG maturity and the consolidation of all existing ESG activities the business may already be doing though its general activities."
- Jacob Elkhishin, Partner, Risk Advisory and ESG Services at RSM Australia
Frequently asked questions
Middle market business leaders will need to understand that ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) factors are increasingly impacting the business landscape. These considerations affect a company's reputation, access to investment, and risk profile. To thrive, businesses should aim to integrate ESG practices and goals within their business processes; engage with stakeholders transparently and regularly; continuously assess and adapt their ESG strategies to remain competitive; and keep abreast of the evolving ESG regulatory environment.
While there has been a degree of movement towards the adoption of environmental, social and governance best practices, various legal requirements have existed in some jurisdictions. However, new regulations and requirements are being introduced with the EU leading in this regard. Some businesses may already be undertaking ESG reporting and disclosures, depending on their geographical location, size and industry. Local market regulations also exist, some more stringent and developed than others.
ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) regulatory requirements vary globally, with governments implementing a range of measures to encourage corporate responsibility and sustainability. Common ESG regulatory elements include sustainability reporting, climate disclosure, human rights and labour practice transparency, gender diversity and governance standards, and efforts to promote green finance and sustainable investing. The Global Reporting Initiative (“GRI”) Standards represent global best practices for reporting publicly on a range of economic, environmental and social impacts, while the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (“SASB”) provides a series of sector-specific standards. In the European Union, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) sets up the legal framework and reporting obligations, while the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) establishes the roadmap for compliance. Other regions have introduced local stewardship codes and regulations related to sustainable finance, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and other priorities as identified by local regulators.
The impact of your company's size on regulatory requirements and reporting can be significant. Generally, larger companies, especially publicly traded ones, face more extensive and complex regulatory obligations compared to smaller or privately held firms. Larger organisations are often subject to stricter ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting requirements due to their broader reach and potential influence on various stakeholders. They may also have more resources dedicated to compliance efforts. Smaller companies, on the other hand, may have less stringent reporting obligations, but they are not exempt from regulatory scrutiny. If the smaller companies are part of a global supply chain of corporates, this may also directly impact their ESG efforts such as their ability to meet the larger organisation’s ESG obligations, in order to remain the supplier of choice for the larger companies. Depending on your industry and location, there may be specific size-based thresholds that trigger certain reporting requirements.
An ESG score quantifies a company's performance in sustainability and responsible business practices. These scores are calculated through a multi-step process that involves data collection from various sources, including company disclosures and third-party data, weighting factors based on their importance, normalising data for fair comparisons, assigning scores or ratings for each ESG category, aggregating them into an overall score (in some cases), and often allowing for peer comparisons and benchmarks. It's important to note that ESG score methodologies can vary among providers, resulting in potential score disparities for the same company. ESG scores serve as a quantitative indicator of a company's commitment to ethical and sustainable practices, aiding investors and stakeholders in assessing its environmental, social, and governance performance, in comparison to other industry peers.
To measure and report on ESG performance, organisations should begin by identifying relevant ESG metrics, collecting data from various sources, and setting clear targets aligned with their strategic goals. Utilising established reporting frameworks and conducting materiality assessments helps structure the reporting process, while data verification and integration into financial reporting enhance credibility. Continuous improvement and stakeholder engagement are crucial for refining ESG reporting practices and addressing concerns. Public disclosure and transparency in reporting, including peer benchmarking and compliance with regulations, foster trust and accountability. Periodic updates to materiality assessments, achievement of ESG targets, and a long-term perspective on ESG reporting further support responsible and sustainable business practices.
Incorporating ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) considerations into a company's strategy offers several significant benefits. It enhances reputation and brand value, attracting environmentally and socially conscious clients, investors and talent. ESG integration mitigates risks related to regulatory compliance, environmental issues, and ethical misconduct while promoting long-term value creation. It fosters innovation by driving responsible resource use and product development. ESG strategies can also improve employee engagement and retention, reduce operational costs, and increase access to capital as more investors prioritise responsible and sustainable investments. Ultimately, embracing ESG principles not only aligns with ethical and societal expectations but also enhances a company's competitiveness, resilience, and overall financial performance, especially in the medium and long terms.
Integrating ESG factors into a company's operations and strategy presents several challenges. Firstly, there's a lack of standardised ESG reporting and metrics across industries and geographies, making it difficult to measure and compare performance accurately. Additionally, ESG integration may require significant cultural and organisational shifts, which can be met with resistance from across all levels within the company. Ensuring data accuracy and reliability for ESG reporting can also be challenging. Furthermore, achieving ESG goals often demands upfront investments, potentially impacting short-term profitability. Lastly, the evolving regulatory landscape and shifting stakeholder expectations require continuous adaptation, adding complexity to the integration process. Successful ESG integration demands commitment, transparency, and a long-term perspective to address these challenges effectively. The amount of ESG resources available is a key factor to the success of ESG integration, with most companies finding themselves facing a resource constraint and trying to overcome the most immediate challenge of capacity building.
ESG factors have a substantial impact on risk in multiple ways. By considering ESG risks such as climate change, resource scarcity, or social controversies, companies can better assess and mitigate potential threats to their operations and reputation. Failing to address ESG concerns can result in regulatory fines, legal liabilities, and damage to brand value. Additionally, investors and stakeholders increasingly consider ESG performance when making decisions, and companies with poor ESG records may face higher costs of capital or difficulty attracting investment. In essence, robust ESG practices can enhance risk management, reduce vulnerabilities, and position companies to navigate an evolving and socially responsible business landscape more effectively.
ESG considerations can affect costs in both short-term investments and long-term operational expenses. Initially, integrating ESG practices may require capital investments to implement sustainable technologies, improve social programmes, enhance governance structures, or introduce efficient data collection methods. However, over the long term, ESG can lead to cost savings through efficiency improvements, reduced resource consumption, and lower operational expenses. Sustainable practices like energy efficiency, waste reduction, and responsible supply chain management can decrease cost of capital, enhance profitability, and contribute to a company's financial resilience. Additionally, strong ESG performance can attract investors who prioritise responsible businesses, expanding a company’s access to funding sources.
ESG considerations affect a wide range of industries across the global business landscape. While the impact may vary, industries such as energy and utilities face significant scrutiny due to their environmental footprint and climate-related risks. The financial sector is influenced by governance and ethical concerns, including executive compensation and responsible lending practices. Healthcare is shaped by social factors related to patient care and ethical research standards. Similarly, the technology sector contends with issues like data privacy and cybersecurity, falling under the governance umbrella. In essence, ESG has become a universal lens through which investors, consumers, and regulators evaluate the performance, responsibility, and value creation of companies in virtually every industry.