Greenwashing and the Invisible Enemy of ApathyESGRC | 3 Min Read |13 July 22|by Richard Rivett
Reduce, reuse, and recycle; turn off light switches when not in use; use the washing machine on a cold cycle. The list goes on as we look to reduce waste and minimize our energy footprint in this world. While these concepts are not new, it is interesting to see how some organizations have now taken this to a new level. We don't have to look too far back to see similar recurring themes - let me explain.
Back in the 80s (think Stranger Things minus the paranormal events and horror) environmentalist Jay Westerveld walked into a hotel room in Fiji and noticed a card that read; "Save Our Planet: Every day, millions of gallons of water are used to wash towels that have only been used once. You make the choice: A towel on the rack means, 'I will use again.' A towel on the floor means, 'Please replace.' Thank you for helping us conserve the Earth's vital resources."
Jay rapidly saw the irony of this statement and composed an essay where he discussed how the hotel industry's motives had little to do with saving the planet, concluding that the real objective of promoting towel reuse was to reduce laundry costs and increase profits. A term he labeled as 'Greenwashing'.
This label re-emerged in 2021 when eco-activist Greta Thunberg referred to COP26 as a 'Greenwash Festival', extending the definition beyond that of product marketing and more towards corporations claiming green credentials and yet outsourcing their obligations. With the specter of legislation ever-present, these practices will need to stop if consumers, regulators, and crucially investors are to be kept happy. This will require organizations to pivot toward a more sophisticated approach to ESG if they are to convince the cynic's view that greenwashing is not the status quo.
Technology will play a key role in this ESG revolution, not just in producing disclosure reports and providing the required evidence, but crucially, the collection of those vital ESG metrics from across the organization and beyond in the supply chain.
These technology solutions will need to bring together all requirements into one central hub allowing organizations to manage the various disclosure frameworks across all geographies whether that be TCFD, GRI, SASB or indeed the various ESG Data Providers. It is crucial that there is consistency, with everyone speaking the same language, as there is little to be gained in actively measuring and managing ESG if the data cannot be aggregated into a single view.
Beyond creating efficiencies in data collection and aggregation, user adoption is essential if you are to embed a culture of ESG into an organization, and the invisible enemy of apathy is to be defeated. If not, 'Greenwashers' using ESG as a marketing tool will pay the price.
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- Centrally manage disclosure requirements of various ESG frameworks, including GRI, SASB, TCFD, and others
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- Define calculated logic and aggregated metrics which can be analyzed and presented via dashboards
- Perform ESG self-assessment with questionnaires and link this to a risk assessment library
- Manage and link your third parties and vendors via a supplier portal to evaluate the ESG posture of your suppliers
- Automate your overall workflow and integrate data feeds from third-party ESG rating agencies
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Explore our ESGRC resources:
Infographic: Why ESG Matters?
Product Overview: Enable Your Growth with Purpose