Building trust with three letters

8 October 2020

By Chrissie Davis

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After ‘quality’, ‘value’ and ‘convenience’, ‘trust’ is now customers’ fourth main deal-breaker.

Building this with customers and other stakeholders is easier said than done, but starting with your people is the best strategy.

With confidence in governments and the media at an all-time low, when it comes to trust in organisations, people are moving towards employees for the truth – and if a business can build faith in-house, a positive halo effect will hang over the brand.

One way to do this is putting people at the heart of your Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts, supported by ongoing communication and engagement programmes. This is imperative because employees need to understand the importance of these components and the key role they play in embedding them into the fabric of their organisation.

Most people know about the ‘environmental’ side, but are less aware of the ‘S’ and ‘G’. Well, ‘social’ could be anything from consumer protection to product safety, labour law and safety at work, diversity, the fight against corruption and respect for human rights throughout the supply chain. For ‘governance’, it could be supply chain risk awareness, data protection, anti-bribery and corruption, gifts and entertainment, tax-evasion – things which are typically covered at a high level in a code of conduct and ethics.  

The aim is that colleagues feel empowered by and connected to their company’s ESG strategy – using the power of storytelling to explain its impact in the real world. This in turn nurtures a culture where employees are emotionally committed to achieving strategic goals and are proud business advocates.

With the unforeseen COVID pandemic taking its toll on all of us, one positive has been the rise in ‘business for good’ – companies going above and beyond to be a better corporate neighbour.  

However, I believe there is still more we can do. 

Companies should make ESG a part of their day-to-day decision making process – moving away from considering it once a year when devising content for the annual report. If ESG is embedded in company culture thanks to engaging and meaningful communications, the annual report is not only more authentic and takes care of itself, but the organisation is a genuine force for good by default. 

All employees should be educated and challenged to engage and carry out daily activities ethically, with the environment, people and sustainable business always in mind. 

Everyone has a voice, they just need a platform to be heard – so by finding the right internal communication channel mix you can uncover those topics people most care about, such as gender pay equality and diversity. Then your businesses can put plans in place to make a real difference in these areas. 

The more focus put on ESG, the more your reputation will grow. Customers and colleagues will understand your motives, trust that you have a greater social purpose, and want to be more closely associated with your brand. 

But don’t fall into the trap of treating ESG as a box-ticking exercise – this is a way of life with no end point. How you do this will continually evolve and develop as your business grows and teammates change… but being more sustainable and thinking of those most in need should be ingrained in your DNA. 

ESG is in its relative infancy and needs to mature. There needs to be consistent standards so meaningful comparisons can be made – and this won’t be achieved overnight. However, as we continue to adjust to our new reality, I hope there’s an increase in companies focussing more on these topics and less on making profits at the expense of people and the planet.

Companies that have the backing of their internal and external stakeholders can do brave, amazing things – attracting and retaining the best talent along the way – so if you haven’t already, start planning your ESG strategy and accompanying communications campaign today – only positive things can come of it. 

Are you struggling to find the right internal communications channel mix? Do you need support creating an ESG communications campaign? If so, EXIMIA is here to help.

Chrissie Davis

Founder and Chartered Secretary

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