Green for growth – ESG changes are good news for Irish businesses

Green for growth – why ESG is good news for business

At our conference in Spring, our speakers agreed that forward thinking on ESG is fast becoming a key factor for successful businesses.

John Mullins, Executive Chairman of Amarenco Solar, said businesses need to act now: “ESG is becoming a pre-requirement for businesses to conduct in the West – we’re also now seeing it in Asia and the Middle. Any company thinking of listing or attracting finance in the future are going to have to show non-financial credentials going back several years.”

ESG, or Environmental, Social, and (Corporate) Governance, are the three main areas of interest for socially responsible investors and customers. Businesses should look at their environmental impact, social relationships, and governance policies around issues like transparency, equality and diversity.

Many companies are dragging their feet, he says, but acting on ESG can both benefit the planet and differentiate your business. “People look at the ethics of your business. The brand of your business is the values of your business.”

He recommends companies start by considering and communicating their environmental goals. “For companies, it’s important that you state in your website, and annual reports, that you actually have sustainability targets and give a plan for how you’re actually going to achieve them.” 

Simple steps can include insisting on buying green energy and conserving energy and water where possible. Businesses can invest, via pension funds etc, in renewable energy solutions (four of the largest European players in renewables right now are based in Cork city). Greening your office and considering the needs of native flora and fauna at sites isn’t just visually attractive, it leads to increased productive capacity.  Company policies on gender equality and diversity of culture will attract a larger talent pool to your business. The list goes on.

These changes are being driven by both governments and customers: “People will be insisting that we, as businesses, do things ethically, morally and properly.” He believes it’s likely that financial advisors will step up as experts in this field and that in 5 to 10 years many accountants will have non-financial audit function, looking at ESG in particular.
As real action on climate change becomes more urgent, John believes that companies can lead the way. “The onus is on all of us to make a contribution as people, but more importantly as businesses, to address  the greatest global challenge, which is climate change.”

What is ESG and what supports are available?

With many “Green” supports available from Enterprise Ireland, including climate toolkits and the climate action voucher, there’s never been a better time to consider investing in your company’s ESG policies. See more below.

Going Green for Irish businesses

The conference theme was planning for success in a time of change. It focused on what “green” will really mean for Irish businesses, from decarbonising costs to funding concerns, and addressed the importance of planning for imminent change on multiple fronts:

  • climate change and why ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) will be crucial for business growth;
  • the likely economic effects of the war in Ukraine;
  • how the government’s Remote Working Strategy and the Right to Request Remote Work Bill will change Irish employment – and steps businesses should take now;
  • Enterprise Ireland’s supports for businesses looking to adapt and evolve;
  • and the importance of strategic exit planning before significant business changes.

Want to know more? Watch the whole conference here on our blog

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