How to write your first ‘people and planet’ policies as a fintech organisation
Companies that have strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials are now more attractive than ever to the best employees and the most loyal customers.
We identify ourselves with who we work for and where we shop. According to a survey by OpenText, 83% of global customers are willing to spend more on products if they can be certain they are ethically sourced.
Being socially and environmentally responsible is essential for businesses. However, finding the companies that are really taking the action can be an absolute maelstrom of claims, impressive sounding but unattainable goals and vague statements with no action.
This is where clear, focused policies come in. I know the word ‘policy’ can make memories of insurance small print come up for some people, so please bear with me. It’s easier than it sounds!
A good ‘people and planet’ policy should be no more than an A4 page in length and written in simple language that makes it clear to all staff, customers and other external stakeholders what your organisation stands for and what you are willing to do to be a changemaker in this world.
Above all, your people and planet policy should be:
- Easy to understand
- Accessible (put it on your website!)
- Linked to your values
So, how do you start writing it? The first step is to examine what your organisation does and where your environmental impact is felt most now – look at the good and the bad, the areas you are already a changemaker and the areas you could improve on.
Is your biggest environmental impact from data centres (currently as much of an emitter as all worldwide flights)? Do your employees travel a long way to get to work? Are there national or international meetings that could happen virtually? Do you already recycle most of your organisation’s waste? Your impacts will be as unique as your company, as well as the degree to which you can change them.
At this stage in the process, it is important to remember that your employees are a wealth of ideas – ask them about changes they would like to see in the business and then take the suggestions on board.
As well as helping you come up with ideas, being more involved in the process makes it more likely that your employees will be more excited about these changes and dedicated to hitting targets. Involvement in practical change can also help stave off eco-anxiety.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, some influential leaders in ESG policy are BNY Mellon, which has reliably diverted 68-73% of all its waste since 2017, and Microsoft, which has committed to using 100% renewable energy in all buildings and data centres by 2025 and is regularly tracking and publishing its progress towards this goal.
Although it might be a while before data centres are all being built underwater, this is the perfect example of listening to your employees, whatever outside-the-box wild ideas they might have – those ideas might well be the future.
Now that you have your areas for improvement and some ideas about changes you can make, it’s time to get writing. Your people and planet policy should:
- Start with an outline of your objectives, what you want to achieve and areas your company can make the most change in
- Make clear your commitment to complying with legislation as a minimum
- Outline the changes you are committing to and the impact this will have
- Promise to continually monitor your progress – starting with half-yearly and then yearly reviews
- Commit to monitor and continuously improve environmental performance
It is important to keep these promises and make them actionable and achievable. Once your policy is written – tell everyone! Put it on your website, send it out as part of your newsletter – don’t be afraid to show off. You’re a changemaker now!
About the author
Gihan Hyde is the award-winning communication specialist and founder of CommUnique, an ESG communication start-up.
She has been implementing ESG campaigns in eight sectors, across six countries over the past 20 years.
Her campaigns have positively impacted over 150,000 employees and 200,000 customers and have closed over £300m in investment deals. Some of the clients she has advised include The World Health Organisation (WHO), HSBC, Barclays, M&S, SUEZ, Grundfos, Philip Morris, USAID, and the Saudi Government.
Get in touch with Gihan through LinkedIn or Twitter @gehanam.