Food For Thought

Working with Customers in Sustainability and ESG Strategy

-By Paul Lachhu

Every supplier has customers who have not fully bought into the need to adopt ESG (environmental, social and governance ) policies and procedures, or the need to incur additional expenses in order to support sustainability and ESG. Of course, an obvious step is holding conversations with customers to explain in-depth the goals and the relationship of ESG principles to competitive status. The conversation is about the long-term big-picture because building an ESG program is no easy task. It requires a commitment of staff and resources. However, your company’s commitment to building and maintaining an ESG program is key to helping customers understand the need.

The ESG conversation will carry a lot of impact if you are able to effectively communicate the ways ESG creates value in detail. The conversation needs to show increased value flows to your company, and that value is passed on to your customers. The goal is to demonstrate how ESG facilitates business growth, reduces costs in the long term, increases employee productivity and optimizes investments. Developing an ESG strategy also creates new business opportunities.

The key to helping customers get started in ESG strategy is to demonstrate how the strategy is benefitting your business - and thus theirs. It could be new business growth, cost reductions through lower energy consumption or materials savings through recycling, increased employee productivity, more effective marketing, and/or fewer legal interventions. Telling your story is important to demonstrating good corporative citizenship - which helps your customers’ brand reputation as well as yours. Implementing ESG strategies also increasingly attracts investors focused on minimizing risk.

Your company can set the example for implementing ESG strategy. It is how this works. One company at a time.