Phase 1: Assess
First, executive leadership must play an active role in defining what success looks like. In this phase, assessing the ESG concerns of your investors is critical, as well as identifying the risks, opportunities, and key performance indicators when selecting a reporting framework.
Phase 2: Design
As the ESG program begins to take shape, the next phase involves developing the narrative and messaging, identifying data sources, helping ensure the reliability of that data, designing the ESG report, and developing a communication plan for all stakeholders, e.g., investors, customers, employees, regulators, and the media. Once that’s complete, then it’s time to help ensure the transparency of the reporting and look for technology solutions that facilitate reporting.
Phase 3: Implement
Next, it’s time to implement the messaging and a communication plan. Remember, investors, customers, employees, regulators, and the media represent your stakeholders. This is the part where advanced planning and intentional design of the ESG program can pay dividends.
Phase 4: Monitor
In the last phase, measuring and refining the reporting and messaging with feedback from stakeholders is critical. It requires constant dialogue to help ensure the plan is working as it should. Given the ambiguous nature of measuring ESG results and a growing appetite for third-party assurances from independent accounting firms to validate the efforts, this phase requires very intentional monitoring (this is not the time for a “watching from afar” approach).