First-hand perspectives on the ESG challenge

Peter Flett   24 January, 2023

ESG: Key to Millennial and Gen Z customers and employees
The need for companies to build their ESG and CSR credentials is being driven by an increasing number of their stakeholders. A company’s perceived sustainability is a growing and important aspect of its overall brand equity, particularly with the Millennial and Gen Z demographics. Authenticity is key. Audiences – corporate or consumer – aren’t fooled by organisations green washing themselves.

Within the UK, Shell’s recent involvement with British Cycling is an example of how not to do it. An 8 year agreement (of an unspecified amount) to fund the national cycle teams, replace BC’s ageing cars and vans with an electric fleet and support a campaign for better facilities for disabled riders sounds great, but when you consider that Shell is spending an estimated $46 billion expanding its oil and fossil gas investments over the same 8 year timeline things aren’t so positive. The CEO was forced to resign following a campaign against the agreement.

In my previous roles as MD of 2 bike companies we made huge efforts to reduce our footprint. We used recycled cardboard for packaging, reduced the levels of plastics involved to a bare minimum and revised the way in which bikes were packed; it’s amazing how much cardboard you can save in a bike box if you take both wheels out of the frame and then pack it! This had a huge knock on effect on the numbers of bikes you can fit into a container on their journey from the Far East factory into the market. We were able to get our annual quota into 8 containers rather than 10. This also meant that they took less space up in delivery vans, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of getting the bikes to the customer.

Within the UK, new companies have appeared helping bike shops recycle used parts; Velorim now collects used tyres from shops around the country in an attempt to reduce the levels of tyres and inner tubes which normally end up in landfill.

As with all sectors, the cycling industry still needs to do more – cheaper ‘bikes for transport’ are made from Chinese steel where the production process is mainly fossil fuel dependent and pollution heavy but it has worked hard to get cleaner in recent years, which explains why so many riders and manufacturers are up in arms about the Shell Sponsorship.

Getting Employees involved
Getting Employees on board is critical too - youdo research from 2022 shows that 85% of employees want to work for a company which cares about its impact on the environment.

Companies need to be able to demonstrate clearly - both internally and externally - that they are walking their talk. This is easier said than done and needs understanding at both management and employee level. Within the bike businesses, staff asked questions about whether or not we could use cleaner non-Chinese manufacturers but production costs elsewhere in the world would have meant the RRP rising by 30% and sales would have been decimated. At the time, we were able to explain the situation and gain some level of buy-in.

Fast forward to life at youdo, where the team has spoken to several organisations at all levels who are frustrated by employee-led initiatives not being heard or acknowledged - internally or externally.

Coordinating and reporting on disparate CSR & ESG initiatives across an organisation with multiple offices is never easy. This is one of the key pain-points that youdo addresses. We provide a home for corporate and employee-led initiatives, a shared value or currency in the shape of youdo tokens, and a reporting suite that makes providing updates on how (and what) your organisation is doing around ESG and CSR.

youdo ensures that Corporate has visibility into what their people are doing in the ESG/CSR space - wherever they are or time zone they’re in - and it gives employees a sense of ownership over their company’s development.

In the same research, 55% of employees surveyed said that they would feel more positively about their employer if they could contribute to company wellbeing and environmental schemes.

Employees want to have some ‘skin in the game’. Involve them, take them on the journey and they’ll be more productive, engage more and stay longer.

Get in touch to find out how youdo can help your business tell its ESG story.