ESG, green concerns and opportunities online – business trends in 2022
The past two years saw many companies in survival mode, improvising and pivoting to stay in business. As we ease away from an economy driven by COVID, what new considerations – and new opportunities – are on the horizon?
Sustainability and ESG become everyone’s business
Expect to hear a lot about ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and climate change in 2022 as investors and banks demand that businesses adequately address their ESG or climate risk before approving funding.
For banks, sustainability is not just ethical. It is an economic and existential question, creating a new type of risk: ESG risk. As consumers demand greater transparency into everything from supply chain and labour standards to executive compensation and energy policies, companies need to keep a close eye on the ESG-related concerns of stakeholders.
Investors are showing a greatly increased demand for sustainable financial products. Shareholders are getting serious and asset owners, such as pension funds, are increasingly insisting on sustainable investing strategies from their asset managers.
Green for growth – and attracting talent
It’s not just investors and banks paying attention to sustainability: according to Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 66% of consumers will spend more on a product from a sustainable brand, jumping up to 73% amongst millennials.
And one survey found that 70% of millennials – who will be three-quarters of the workforce in the next decade – are more likely to choose employment at a company with a strong environmental agenda. They would also consider accepting a smaller salary to work for a company that’s environmentally responsible.
As everyone from prospective employees to shareholders become more environmentally conscious, engaging meaningfully with green issues will no longer be optional. Ignoring sustainability will put companies at the risk of irrelevancy in 2022 and beyond.
Clicks and mortar – digital business opportunities continue
For many businesses, the pandemic was the push that got them meaningfully online. Against the backdrop of closed retail, and with the assistance of investment by government agencies, the Irish online economy grew 159% during Covid-19.
Business boomed while the shops were closed. A report by Irish-owned Wolfgang Digital revealed that 67% of Irish online retailers were in the “one million plus club”, turning over €1 million or more in online revenue in 2020.
But, while doors are opening again, online isn’t a passing fad. According to the Central Bank of Ireland, eCommerce card purchases are increasing annually by 25 percent annually. And COVID has brought new people into the e-commerce economy, such as the high-spending over-65 demographic. They may have been pushed online but now businesses should strategise how best to take advantage of being there.
Looking forward to greener pastures
2022 will bring new challenges and new opportunities. COVID is no longer a constant driver of change but that doesn’t mean businesses should default back to 2019’s state-of-play. Now is the time to talk to your accountant about your business goals and get up-to-date advice on how to evolve post-Covid. Firms should look to the future and stay abreast of new trends – or risk being left in the past.
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What will the “new normal” mean for you and your business? Join us on March 10th for our online conference – “Getting Back to Business – Planning for Greener Pastures in 2022 and Beyond”.
Our 2022 Trend analysis will include John Mullins of Amarenco speaking on the costs of and ESGs requirement to decarbonise business and achieving true green branding rather than green washing.
This event is free but spaces are limited: register now on Eventbrite.