While ESG (environmental, social, and governance) corporate policies were once relegated to green and environmentally focused companies, today, robust and authentic ESG strategies are an essential component of the world's most forward-focused and risk-averse corporations.
What is ESG?
ESG policies are a set of standards for a company's behaviours and practices. Environmental criteria should include a company's energy usage, waste generation, use of natural resources and treatment of animals. Social policies like attitudes toward the workforce, labour practices and interactions with local and global communities are key, while governance incorporates shareholder relationships and reporting and accounting practices.
Why ESG Matters Now
Beyond being the right thing to do, developing, implementing, and enacting comprehensive ESG policies is now universally understood as best practice. According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, in 2020, ESG drove an estimated $35.3 trillion in investments, a third of all global assets under management.
As investor and regulatory pressures mount and scrutiny over greenwashing continues to increase, transparency and independent third-party authentication are vital in ensuring well-laid ESG plans are fully realised in companies adopting these policies.
Thankfully, a selection of EU companies is setting the bar in corporate ESG policy making.
The Governance Pioneer
Indeed, the worldwide employment website for job listings, is an excellent example of ESG transparency. The company proudly and publicly shares its strategy, goals, progress, and achievements, adopting a 360-degree approach to policy from its impact on the planet and people to how it manages private practices.
Indeed achieved carbon neutrality in 2019 in conjunction with CarbonNeutral. Now it's setting its sights on being carbon net zero by 2030, with progress toward the target shared online.
In an effort to increase access and offer equal opportunities, Indeed launched Essentials to Work in 2022, a $10 million multi-prong investment to help struggling job seekers gain essential access to technology, transportation, and criminal record-clearing services.
As a business inspired and powered by people, governance is where Indeed's ESG policy really shines. Its supplier diversity mission has seen the company increase its female workforce to 50%, and they have set a goal of increasing underrepresented ethnic minorities to 30% by 2030.
The Big Picture Player
As a global technology and software leader, Microsoft takes its ESG policies as seriously as it does innovation. Its annual reporting and dedicated blogs allow shareholders, employees, and customers to stay informed and educated on its plans and progress.
Most noticeably, Microsoft firmly believes it must use its power, capital and influence beyond its company walls. Its ESG policies and strategy are bolstered with open-source technology sharing which aims to help the global community, rather than focusing solely on its bottom line.
As for specific, noteworthy ESG achievements and targets, Microsoft has been carbon neutral since 2012 and is committed to achieving carbon negativity by 2030. Microsoft also aims to protect more land and replenish more water than it uses by 2025 and 2030, respectively.
Putting its money where its mouth is, the company plans to deploy $1 billion of its own capital in a new Climate Innovation Fund to accelerate the development of carbon reduction and removal technologies that will help accelerate the world's climate goals.
With a further $50 million set to be invested in AI for Earth to accelerate innovation, becoming part of the Microsoft team means joining a movement that will move the dial on climate action.
HubSpot's culture code is "no product is ever done," and that's precisely the software developer and marketer's approach to its ESG strategy. Its efforts in climate action, creating equity within its workforce and the wider community, and its approach toward governance sets it apart in the industry.
While many companies continue to outsource ESG policy-making and tracking, HubSpot hired a Director of ESG in 2021, demonstrating a commitment to long-term development.
Ready to practice what ESG preaches, HubSpot offset 4,500 metric tons of emissions in 2021 to cover transportation and remote working impacts. It's also working with, and donating to, nature-based and renewable energy projects to help secure the future of its energy needs.
ESG is part of the fabric of day-to-day operations for its employees. HubSpotters have access to educational resources on sustainability, and there are plenty of ways for employees to get involved in initiatives. During a Plastic Free July challenge, employees saved 373 water bottles, 572 plastic bags, and 369 take-out containers by opting for reusable and readily biodegradable alternatives.
From personal habit changes of employees to large-scale industry disruption, HubSpot is using its ESG policies to set itself apart.
Joining the Change
For those interested in becoming part of the industry's future, joining a company with leading ESG policies is the best place to start. Whether you have a personal interest in sustainability or not, these companies demonstrate the resilience, foresight and innovation necessary to navigate the unchartered territories every industry faces in the coming years.