ESG compliance: How to comply with the social aspect of ESG

Whether by choice or necessity, more and more companies are finding themselves at the helm of ESG issues.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sustainability initiatives. Start building it piece-by-piece. In this blog we give you some pointers on the social element of ESG, which relates to the way that companies impact society.

The ‘S’ of ESG is about how companies look after people, within their employment, in their local communities, and throughout their supply chain. So we’re talking about things like:

  • Fair pay
  • Employee benefits
  • Equal opportunities
  • Health and safety in the workplace
  • Apprenticeships
  • Community engagement
  • Engaging with other companies who treat their employees fairly

These are all great aims for a business. But without a plan in place, it’s easy for these aims to stay as mere ideas. Of course, it would be difficult to put a comprehensive ESG strategy in place overnight. But if you give one hour a week to sustainability you will be surprised at what you can achieve in a year.

Practical ways to become compliant

So what are the things you need to think about and introduce to make sure your business complies with these social obligations?

Put in place a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion policy

A DEI policy promotes the representation and participation of different groups of individuals in your business. Your policy makes it clear how you give equal opportunities to people of different ages, sexual orientation, race, gender, disabilities and religions for example.

The first step is to draft it. If you need help to get a robust policy on paper, please give us a call at SME Comply and we’re happy to do it for you. But you also need to train your staff on compliance with the policy, and periodically review it at board meetings.

Create a CSR Strategy

You might pick a ‘Charity of the Year’ to support, or partner with the local school to arrange ‘Career Days’ or help with reading. It’s about engaging with the local community and supporting other people.

Review your risk from third parties

This is about looking at the risk from third parties through the lens of human rights and employment rights. Do they take steps to prevent modern slavery, and bribery and corruption? Have they got an anti-money laundering policy in place? Do they treat their employees fairly?

It’s effectively an audit of your suppliers and partners to make sure you’re collaborating with people that care about their positive impact on society.

Enhance your data privacy

Looking after personal data is part of respecting your employees and customers. If you need any help keeping up to date with your compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation, please get in touch. We’re specialists outsourced Data Protection Officers.

You may want to consider getting certain ISO accreditations to demonstrate your compliance and your investment in good social policies.

Disclosures and reporting

You may be aware that certain businesses are under a legal obligation to disclose and report their ESG compliance. The businesses that need to do this are UK companies that fall into the following categories:

  • Public companies trading on the UK regulated market with more than 500 employees
  • AIM listed companies with more than 500 employees
  • Private companies with a turnover of more than £500 million

If your business is caught by those categories, then you need to submit annual disclosures about your ESG efforts.

On the social side of things, that means disclosing information like (i) your gender pay gap report, (ii) the bribery and corruption policy, (iii) your modern slavery policy, (iv) health and safety statistics, and (v) any data privacy breaches.

How compliance helps your business

Compliance is not just about minimising risk. Being on top of your ‘social’ obligations can have a brilliant positive impact on your business.

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