Why setting goals is vital for ESG and Sustainability success
5 June 2023
Business leaders must create legitimate targets for improving their companies and World Environment Day provides that opportunity.
World Environment Day is the UN initiative aimed at encouraging awareness about the importance of protecting the environment, and offers a perfect opportunity for firms to consider how their operations impact people and planet, and how they can contribute to making positive change.
It is incumbent on companies to reduce their environmental impact on the planet – failing to do so has the potential to create business risk.
Formalising exactly how a firm intends to reduce its carbon footprint, or encourage better diversity and inclusion, for instance, is an important step, because it sets out goals for companies to hit.
And with today’s young talent not only wanting a purpose to their work, but actively seeking out businesses whose morals and ethics align with their own, firms must ensure they are an open and inclusive employer and alive to the demands of the post-pandemic world of work.
Having something to aim for means that progress can be measured, with under-achievements identified so they can be easily addressed, and overachievement enabling new, more demanding targets to be set.
The lack of a formal framework can hinder progress, or lead to lopsided momentum where a company has offices in different nations, as with our 12 offices spread across nine countries.
Our Group companies have always been proud of putting customers first and providing them with the assistance they need to move themselves out of financial difficulty.
Our approach has been grounded in ethics since our foundation in 1998, giving us the ability to lead the way in social responsibility.
But in 2022, we took the first steps to formalise and structure our ESG and Sustainability Programme – a move that has allowed us to implement various reporting metrics across each business.
With clear metrics for success, we can ensure that our business activities positively contribute to the communities we operate in. These metrics also allow us readily and transparently to update our stakeholders on our journey towards becoming an industry leader in this space.
Our Executive Committee set out clear goals for establishing an ESG programme at the start of 2022, joining recognisable and rigorous ESG initiatives, and beginning the process of incorporating an ESG mindset and approach within each of our group’s distinct businesses.
While our Group became a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary, non-binding pact to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, our fund management business, LCM Partners, became a signatory of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
Today, we have a robust ESG working committee with representatives from every office which is charged with implementing local ESG initiatives as well as establishing the overarching group policy and objectives.
It was important to ensure that all of the group’s businesses were represented to make universal implementation of policies more straightforward and to secure support and enthusiasm.
The Committee has clearly defined key policies and goals in each area, as well as a framework for understanding whether targets are being hit or missed.
Some policies are in functional areas, for example recycling and food waste, while others relate to the company’s culture and ethos including diversity and inclusion and harassment in the workplace. We have also covered environmental factors with our sustainable sourcing policy.
A constant challenge
ESG and sustainability frameworks and policies are living documents, and writing one once does not mean the job is done.
Our ESG framework outlines a clear structure upon which our efforts are based, but also sets strategic objectives for the coming years.
This means we have been able to report our progress in 2022 to all stakeholders, updating them on areas within each of the three silos of our ESG framework: Thriving World, Thriving Community, and Thriving Governance.
Going forward, updates will be made on the progress against the five UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we believe to be most relevant to our business, including Reduced Inequalities and Climate Action.
Elsewhere, we’ve made tangible progress in reducing our impact on the planet, as we now track and measure energy usage, leading to reduced electricity and heating consumption, while local initiatives such as encouraging staff car-sharing have also sprung up.
We have committed, wherever possible, to source energy from renewable sources, while further digitising our business can reduce the amount of paper we need to use.
While the progress last year is pleasing, it is just the start.
By setting formal goals and targets, and publicising policies, we can be truly accountable to all our stakeholders and demonstrate where successes have been achieved or where more effort is required.
This includes in areas like the gender pay gap and supporting continual learning and development to help employees feel fulfilled in their careers.
And, fundamentally, our ESG will focus on the stewardship of our customers, continuing to ensure that we treat them fairly, and that when things do go wrong, our efforts to fix them are persistent.
As a firm with big ambitions, we strive to meet the goals we set ourselves, and continually stretch ourselves to be the best business we can for people and planet.
11 July 2023
There are few better ways to celebrate success than to share it with others, so in Link's 25th anniversary year we've made a donation of £25,000 to a really deserving cause.
27 February 2023
Link Financial Group is celebrating a significant milestone this year as it is the 25th anniversary of our foundation