ESG is caught in a wave of reflection, how should we continue to promote it in terms of communication?

  One is to focus on the story of “using innovation to create positive impact”, and the other is to actively expand the spread of S and G.
  Many things are developed amid controversy, just like ESG in the recent past. Due to the high oil price and inflation, there are many different voices about ESG ratings and investment in the international community, arguing that they not only fail to guide capital to promote green development, but also breed a lot of “greenwashing” and arbitrage behaviors. Among them, the most intense expression came from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He said ESG is the devil incarnate and ESG ratings are meaningless. The reason is that Tesla, as a benchmark in the global new energy field, has an ESG rating that is not as good as that of oil company Exxon Mobil.
  For decades, ESG has developed rapidly, but in terms of rating and disclosure, due to inconsistent standards and complex disclosure, it has led to restrictions on investment in traditional energy fields in the short term. Finally, when the global development slowed down and conflicts emerged one after another, it caused a large number of institutions and practitioners to reflect on it.
  Of course, ESG is essentially a “value” that leads capital and institutions to be good. Although there is controversy in the development, the general trend is certain. It focuses on sustainability, on the harmony between people and the planet, and on the actions taken to do so. Short-term disputes will not change the general trend. How to continue to promote ESG dissemination in such an environment of short-term controversy and long-term certainty? The author shares two suggestions: one is to focus on the story of “using innovation to create positive impact”; the other is to actively expand the spread of S (society) and G (corporate governance).
  Let’s start with the first point. In the early days of ESG, there was indeed more focus on reducing risk and disruption. Today, you may find that many companies focus on reducing carbon emissions, reducing engineering accidents, reducing quality problems and other “negative impact” measures when practicing ESG, and the same is true for ratings. However, to achieve sustainable development, we should not only rely on restrictions and reductions, but also on progress and breakthroughs, and take the initiative to “create positive impacts”. For companies in particular, the only way to integrate ESG strategies with long-term growth strategies is this. The fusion point is to use breakthrough innovation to turn the superficial constraints generated under the ESG framework into essential development opportunities, creating what Richard Foster said is the advantage of the attacker, so that in the increasingly complex new competition for sustainable development stand out. For example, Corona recently launched a low-carbon can. It uses innovative technology launched by Rio Tinto in cooperation with Alcoa, so that the aluminum smelting process does not directly emit any greenhouse gases. You know, Rio Tinto and Alcoa are direct competitors in the conventional sense. This case directly demonstrates the elements of technology, products and cross-institutional collaboration required for breakthrough innovation. Such positive innovations reflect the aggressive carbon reduction strategies recently emphasized by the industry (as mentioned by scholar and policy researcher Liu Shijin). ESG is not just about doing less evil, but also being proactive.
  Let’s talk about expanding the spread of S and G. Due to China’s unique national conditions, public opinion has always focused on carbon-related fields. As a result, when many people talk about ESG, they seem to default to talking about the progress in E (environment), but S and G are also two extremely important fields. This time, it is the S and G issues that are holding back Tesla’s ESG rating (MSCI and S&P Global respectively point out its deficiencies in labor management, corporate governance and product quality).
  Therefore, the communication department of the enterprise should improve its understanding of these two aspects, and actively help the company to explore the challenges and opportunities of the company and its industry in the fields of education, health, and safety production, and take the initiative to plan and promote the communication.
  Taking the above-mentioned low-carbon cans as an example, Rio Tinto also provides downstream customers with S and G information such as community investment, safety performance, business integrity, compliance and transparency in the aluminum production process through blockchain technology. Of course, someone once said to the author: Most of the topics in S and G are things that have not been done well to improve, and it is not honorable to talk about it. Do you really want to actively spread it? To unravel this knot, I am afraid we can only reshape our belief in corporate communication – in this era when the public is constantly calling on companies to take social responsibility and promote social progress, can we break through the limitations of our own propaganda, start first, and cause What about the public’s attention and discussion on the cold knowledge and non-hot spots in the process of sustainable development?
  With such an understanding and pattern, ESG may become another powerful thinking and tool for corporate communication.