While numerous reflections about 2023 and projections for 2024 abound, I've contemplated my own sustainability considerations for businesses in the upcoming year. Here are my insights. What are your thoughts?
Top 5 sustainability topics I think are important for 2024.
Climate Disclosure: Prepare your Supply Chain
With over 15 years of advising companies on regulatory compliance, I've noticed a unique distinction with the initial announcement of the SEC Climate Disclosure vs other regulations: CEOs are engaged quickly, and companies moved purposefully. The SEC Climate Disclosure rule, expected in April 2024, will mandate disclosures of climate-related risks, including emissions and risk management practices. Even though it begins with disclosure from the largest public companies, they are already requiring their supply chains to provide this data. All companies need to be considering how they are going to prepare to share their data if they aren't already.
Tech Solutions: Unavoidable and Beneficial
While tech solutions take time to learn and implement, I believe they are valuable tools and are incredibly helpful with meeting ESG and sustainability requirements. Tech solutions are crucial for managing the vast amounts of ESG data, reducing human error, and enhancing traceability. They allow teams to focus on strategic ESG actions instead of data management. While tech evolves and it's sometimes costly, I am hopeful to see pricing lower this year therefore increasing accessibility so more companies, and the planet, can benefit from these tools.
ESG: Persistent and Global
Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG), despite politicization and opposition in some states, is here to stay. With a significant portion of companies of all types adopting ESG initiatives, the global interconnectedness of our world ensures the continuation of these practices. Regulatory requirements beyond the U.S. influence this trend, ensuring that ESG is here to stay and the need for ESG expertise continues.
While the way companies discuss their actions may evolve, the essential work on these efforts will persist.
Diversity Equity and Inclusion – People matter
Like ESG, DEI is evolving in company culture even though it is paramount for businesses as it directly impacts their most valuable asset: people. Embracing DEI goes beyond moral obligation; it's a strategic choice that connects businesses with diverse markets and builds a robust, adaptable workforce, thereby fueling long-term success in a dynamic global economy. Organizations will be expected to not only diversify their workforces but create inclusive cultures and address systemic inequalities through their operations, supply chains, and community engagement efforts.
Personally, I think of the exponential impact of positive experiences –something near and dear to my values – when I consider the implications of treatment of people. I believe people influenced positively by kindness and humanity perpetuate those values, creating a community I aspire to be part of.
Corporate Transparency and Accountability: Avoid Greenwashing
As demands for transparency grow, companies must provide detailed and honest reporting on their ESG efforts, including challenges and failures. Regulations are aiming to set clear standards and counter deceptive greenwashing or green-hushing, ensuring that marketing claims align with actual practices.
This shift towards genuine transparency and accountability is essential to protect consumers and investors from misleading marketing and ensure that companies' ESG and sustainability assertions align with their actual practices.
These simple, actionable, and impactful steps matter!
So, let's get started now. Sustainability Simplified©
Christy is 4xi's Chief Sustainability Officer in Residence is the lead of Sustainability Simplified©. Christy specializes in ESG Advisory, Strategies, Sustainability Road Maps, Measurement, Systems, and Reporting.
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