The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) recently published a report reflecting on how businesses in the UK have performed in addressing sustainable development and ESG and what they can do to put the foot on the accelerator to meet growing shareholder and stakeholder expectations.

The report recognises that global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, war and inflation have slowed progress towards the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 – goals which many UK businesses have adopted or aligned themselves to in order to make progress around ESG.

Encouragingly though the UNGC note a recent shift in business sector engagement with ESG; driven by increased expectations from stakeholders to address sustainability challenges, build resilience, and activate long-term growth.

If your organisation is grappling with this shift in ESG expectation, perhaps for the first time or perhaps trying to accelerate, there are several resources baked into the report that I recommend can help:

A guide to materiality: Materiality is a process to assess different areas of ESG and identify those that are the most pressing for your business to address. It facilitates laser focus on those issues that matter most to your business, your shareholders and stakeholders.

‘How to‘ resources: For each area of the Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. climate action, gender equality, responsible consumption and production) there are industry recognised resources and standards flagged which organiations can pick up and adopt to accelerate themselves to best practice in a tried and tested way.

Practical case studies: Sometimes you just need to know what businesses have actually done and how you might do the same. For each sustainable development area there are case studies in the report from the likes of Vodafone, Tesco, DWF and us - Burges Salmon – to help you turn the theory into action.

Research shows top performing businesses have ESG firmly embedded in their business plans. Helping the wider business community to understand what ESG is and where to start will be critical if we are to create industries fit for the future and meet the goals we have set ourselves  around sustainable development.