Best practices for internal ESG communications
Internal ESG communications are more important than ever before. This blog outlines best practices for structuring and sharing ESG content that engages your employees.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria are becoming increasingly important to customers, investors, and jobseekers. Each of these parties has come to expect transparency around how the organizations they engage with conduct themselves environmentally and ethically. However, many companies aren’t fully confident that their own ESG actions are enough to satisfy interested stakeholders. For example, research from NAVEX Global reveals only 50% of companies believe they perform very effectively against environmental metrics. Just 39% say the same about governance, and 37% about social issues.
There are various potential barriers to ESG progress within organizations, but those organizations that aren’t fully assured they’re meeting ESG expectations have a secret weapon they may not be fully utilizing — their employees.
Getting your people engaged in ESG initiatives can help to deliver results your organization can feel proud to shout about, so how can internal communicators support ESG progress? Read on to find out.
Internal ESG communications best practices
It’s all well and good making public ESG pledges and creating a mission statement that outlines your organization’s good intentions, but you need people power to put action behind those words. This requires a well-thought-out internal ESG communications strategy, and if you haven’t established one already then understanding common best practices will help to get your strategy off the ground.
Here are a few best-practice ideas to consider when fleshing out your internal campaign:
Tell a consistent story
Consider how your messaging will integrate throughout your company’s brand — work with your marketing team to ensure that your internal messaging is consistent with how you’re talking to customers and investors about the same subject matter. It’s likely your organization will already have an external marketing strategy for ESG, which means the building blocks will already be there for your internal comms strategy. Regularly communicating your mission, values, and goals will be an integral part of both strategies, and will be crucial to embedding those elements within your organization.
Focus on differentiation
As ESG can be a key retention factor, it’s important to think about how your organization is standing out from competitors when it comes to tackling those issues that are important to your employees. Identify the areas of your ESG strategy that are you unique to your organization is essential here, and these key differentiators should be regularly communicated too.
Put your content marketing hat on
Content marketing is a strategy that marketing teams adopt to stay ahead of timely and trending issues, and by creating content around these issues they can ensure their organization’s progressive stance on the issue is recognized by their audiences.
Internal communicators can take the same approach to ESG-related issues, creating internal content around those issues and relating it back to the actions the organization is taking to help overcome them.
ESG covers a wide expanse of subjects and themes, so it’s important not to focus on every issue that emerges. Any internal communicator will understand that authenticity is key when it comes to subjects that are particularly meaningful to employees, and choosing to create content and comms around the issues that align with your industry, or your company values and goals, will help to ensure authenticity.
Authenticity can also be bolstered by leveraging any data or employee-generated content you have from ESG initiatives, such as employee quotes, success stories, and metrics that reflect positive outcomes.
Maximize engagement when promoting ESG initiatives
Successfully promoting ESG initiatives internally can be difficult due to a variety of challenges. These can include geographically dispersed workforces, cultural barriers, people in the business having different perceptions of the value and meaning of ESG, and finding ways for remote employees to participate.
A multichannel approach to your ESG communications strategy can help to overcome some of these challenges by making content as widely available as possible, especially if you can create and deploy engaging ESG communications from one platform that reaches people in different locations, time zones, and languages.
How a multichannel comms strategy can boost ESG communications
Let’s take a look at how a multichannel comms strategy can work for promoting an ESG initiative that requires strong engagement from your workforce.
Imagine this ESG scenario
Let’s imagine you’re organizing a plogging event (yes, you read that right. That means picking up litter while jogging — neat, right?) for employees in areas close to each of your corporate locations.
From a comms perspective, these are likely to be the things you want to achieve:
- You want to announce the event with a bit of fanfare to get everybody excited, and you want everybody to find out about it at the same time.
- To ensure you have great engagement before the event takes place, you need to get a measure of how many are taking part, and exactly who is taking part in each location.
- You also want to deploy timely reminders and give your employees access to all the information they will need; event times, meeting points, what’s required, and so on.
- You need to encourage home workers to get involved by plogging in their surrounding areas too.
- Finally, you want to encourage employees to capture moments through photo and video so that you can share this chapter of your organization’s ESG story both internally and externally.
While it’s easy to focus on the points above, you also need to consider what your employees need to know about the ESG initiative. The key elements they will need from you include:
- An overview of the ESG initiative.
- Why or how it will contribute to ‘the greater good’.
- How your organization’s contributions have a wider impact.
A snapshot of the ESG communications strategy
It’s likely that you will have a pre-existing ESG communications area on your intranet software. This gives you a good base for placing new updates and directing readers, but it’s also important to make sure that the entire area is optimized for maximum findability with keywords and metadata.
Your intranet ESG communications area should act as the nucleus for all the comms around the event. The event announcement and updates that you send out to your employees should link back to this area, where the same information can be stored, and other detailed content surrounding the event can be accessed too.
This will mean you don’t have to overwhelm people with too much information in the ESG communications you deploy, and those comms can be punchy, exciting, and digestible.
Choosing the right channels for your ESG communications
Understanding which channels to use to get your comms seen by all eyes can be critical for receiving maximum engagement. For example, frontline workers will be better reached through digital signage or your employee app, while desk-based workers will be more receptive to more direct channels such as Teams or Slack. If your intranet software provides granular analytics that show which channels different teams or individuals are more receptive to, you can take a more targeted and personalized approach.
The flowchart below details a typical multichannel strategy centered around your intranet content on the ESG initiative.
Mastering ESG communications
Achieving ESG success requires a company-wide effort that ensures there is action behind the promises your organization makes. By following these best practices and adopting a multichannel approach for your ESG communications, you can benefit from having an entire organization of advocates who want to help drive positive change, and understand how they can help to go about it.