Navigating the Path to ESG Success: A Comprehensive Guide to Developing Your Plan

How to Develop a ESG Plan

As a privately held company, Servicon doesn’t have to worry about stockholders or investors. This comes with benefits, including being flexible and the ability to make decisions quickly. Another advantage, some might say, is that we don’t need to develop a formal environmental and social governance (ESG) plan.

We are under no legal requirement or outside pressure to develop an ESG plan. However, our company culture is based on the belief that we do well by doing right. It’s in our DNA. We live by our purpose of elevating the industry and our vision of creating healthy environments for people to thrive. We realized that we have been doing things aimed at supporting these goals for years. Yet we had never collected or tracked our actions, let alone formalized them into a solid ESG strategy—until this year, when we published our first ESG report.

Why Have a Formal ESG Strategy

Maritza Aguilar, Servicon’s head of ESG, explains what led Servicon to create and document an ESG plan. “Our leaders and owners decided to formalize an ESG program because, given our purpose and strong culture, we were already doing so many things in these areas. We pioneered green cleaning; we care about and help develop our employees. We contribute to the communities where we work and live. Servicon’s leaders and executives decided it was time to formalize these actions into a definitive plan, state our goals, and publicly track our progress.”

According to Aguilar and Servicon ESG administrator Anna Rabinovitch, the benefits of developing an ESG plan include:

  • Showing rather than telling employees, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders that you care about your employees, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and the environment
  • Attracting employees, who increasingly care about that a company’s values and actions align with their own beliefs
  • Focusing on employee development and inclusion, sustainability, social issues, and improved working environments to elevate the industry
  • Building trust with employees and customers by being transparent
  • Having a starting point to track progress and identify where additional work may be needed
  • Partnering with companies that share your values creates longer lasting relationships
  • Illustrating a willingness to put time and money into creating a better working future and life for those in the communities you serve

More than a mission

Starting an ESG Plan

Despite all these benefits, many companies get “stuck” on how and where to start to develop an ESG plan. While Aguilar admits the process may be more restrictive for publicly traded companies, she is still willing to offer tips on starting an ESG strategy and program.

Identify what is important. What values and goals matter to the business and its stakeholders? Servicon leaders understand what is important to them and the company’s culture, and we have been conducting employee engagement surveys and client business reviews regularly for years. Because of this, we already have a lot of information available, so it was more a matter of aggregating the data. But for those that don’t, this is a vital first step.

Solidify your objectives. These goals, or “pillars,” will be the foundation upon which your entire ESG strategy rests.

Servicon’s four ESG pillars are:

  1. Opportunity. Creating opportunities to empower and support our employees to thrive and fostering a workplace environment that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion where everyone feels respected, understood, and that they belong
  2. Community. Contributing to systemic change and supporting development among disadvantaged communities to promote education and training, health equity, employment opportunities, and food equity
  3. Sustainability. Implementing environmentally responsible cleaning and facilities maintenance services and business practices focused on reducing, reusing, and recycling to protect the environment today and into the future
  4. Ethics and Integrity. Being accountable from the top down by leading with integrity and honesty, conducting business ethically and fairly, and complying with all laws and regulations while setting the same expectations with our business partners.

Ensure buy-in. This requires communication and education. Many people have heard of ESG, but not all understand exactly what it is. Top leaders should communicate the objectives and reasoning behind them clearly to all employees to ensure understanding and emphasize how vital ESG is to the company and its future.

Collect data. “Our approach was to take stock of all the programs and activities we were currently doing that we didn’t think of before in terms of a formalized ESG strategy,” Aguilar says. “These included everything from green cleaning and tracking our carbon emissions to employee scholarships and community volunteering. We knew we did a lot in the four areas we chose as pillars, but like us, you might be surprised at how much.”

Create a monitoring process. The executive team and leaders need to come to a consensus on measuring progress for each initiative. This is necessary to track actual results.

Document the results. “We consider our inaugural report to be the beginning of our formal ESG journey,” Aguilar says. “We will use it to track our progress to see where we are successful and where we may need additional work. It’s a learning process but one with an incredible end goal: the chance to make a difference and create a better working future.”

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