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UK staff: Companies can achieve ESG standards without hitting profits

Nearly half (47%) of UK staff can achieve higher environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards without sacrificing profitability, according to research carried out by Opinium on behalf of the Better Society Awards and Citigate Dewe Rogerson.

The online survey which questioned a panel of respondents comprising owners, chief executives and directors as well as other staff,  also revealed that more than half (52%) of workers believe companies should consider ESG issues because it is morally the correct thing to do. However, one in eight of respondents (12%) said profits should be impacted if necessary to raise such standards but a quarter (24%) said they would be unwilling to accept sacrificing profitability for the sake of ESG.

UK staff companies ESG standards

UK Staff believe companies should consider ESG issues

Around two in five (38%) of the UK workers believe their company’s consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues has risen over the last five years, according to new research. Only 2% believe these concerns have reduced. However, the research also revealed a degree of pragmatism: 28% say ESG issues need to be considered to legally protect their company, while over a quarter (26%) say that ESG considerations are ultimately necessary to be more successful. This latter belief is not skewed in any particular generation – while 25% of millennials (18-34-year-olds) believe this, 26% of 35 to 55-plus believe this, too.

However, the respondents said that their companies were not highlighting their ESG activities to staff. The majority of respondents (53%) said their companies do not publicise their ESG activities at all and only one in five (21%) said their company uses internal communications for this. Other publicity methods mentioned included the annual company report (17%); press releases (11%); sponsorship (10%); and advertising (9%).

Mark Evans, director, Better Society Awards, said: “Many companies now can see that their organisation’s ESG position is driving higher long-term profitability. This represents a sea change in perception; ESG was only notionally considered in the previous decades, but now is not only fully accepted, but seen as no impediment to profit.”

Jonathan Flint, managing director, Citigate Dewe Rogerson, commented: “Public consciousness of ESG issues continues to rise, putting ever more pressure on companies to demonstrate good behaviour. Despite this, it is surprising that our research shows how little companies are doing to highlight their ESG activities. The potential to enhance their reputations further with comprehensive communications is substantial.”

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