The Everyday Work of ESG Reporting

November 16, 2022

Many have no idea where to start when it comes to ESG reporting responsibilities. Here are a few ideas to help get you moving in the right direction.

Environment, social and governance (ESG) principles have become a monolithic presence in the strategic thinking of today’s organizations. Consumer demands, investor concerns and mandatory regulatory reporting have taken ESG from the vague public relations exercises of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the rigorous reporting requirements coming into force in many jurisdictions around the world. 

One of the difficult things about monoliths is that it can be tricky to get a handle on them. Their sheer size and complexity can be overwhelming for those who are not used to dealing with them. ESG is a monolith that has arisen relatively quickly to become a critical concern for organizational leadership. If you’re confronting the reality of having new ESG reporting responsibilities and you have no idea where to start, you’re not alone. Here are a few ideas to help you start moving in the right direction. 

EHS and ESG Reporting Share Common Principles

Many of the core principles of ESG reporting are already part of the everyday work of environmental, health and safety (EHS) professionals. EHS teams collect significant amounts of data on environmental operations and the health of workers at their facilities. They will be well-versed in managing complex regulatory procedures and might already be reporting environmental metrics such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy consumption and waste management to stakeholders inside and outside the organization. 

There Will Be Challenges, But There Are Solutions

One of the biggest challenges with ESG reporting is data. As with anything related to “big data,” the emphasis is on “big.” ESG needs a lot of data to provide useful insights and proper reporting. Much of this data will be isolated within departments, and some of it might even be sitting in vast spreadsheets that are managed manually. Unsophisticated manual processes are not only difficult to manage, but they can also introduce errors that seriously compromise the integrity of the data being collected. Further, adopting the frameworks used to report this data requires considerable resources and in-house expertise. While EHS practitioners can help considerably, the challenges of this task might require additional resources to effectively manage data quality and ESG reporting. 

The relative unfamiliarity with ESG among executive stakeholders can also present challenges. This is often exacerbated by the aforementioned issues with data, since a lack of data-derived insights makes it difficult to give executive stakeholders the information they need to make ESG reporting a strategic priority. Communicating ESG priorities also needs to extend beyond leadership to everybody in the organization, especially frontline workers, to ensure that ESG becomes a cultural imperative in which everyone has a role to play. 

Technology can help solve these challenges. ESG management software will be a critical component for every organization looking to automate data collection, improve data management and quality, engage in materiality analysis and provide regular communications and updates for key stakeholders. It will also be important for managing the documentation and training needed to support a resilient and efficient approach to ESG reporting across multiple mandatory frameworks. 

Training Your Teams for ESG

Intelex’s ESG 101 Training Course – Module 3: ESG In Practice provides the fundamentals your EHS teams need to build an ESG approach that meets reporting requirements and satisfies stakeholder demand. In Module 3, you will learn about the following: 

  • How to take the work you are already doing in EHS to lay the foundation for ESG. 
  • How to meet and overcome organizational challenges in establishing ESG. 
  • How to use technology to develop your ESG expertise and build a resilient organization.