Nancy Fuchs Marshall
Published 1 year ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Mikael Blomkvist/Pexels
When companies miscommunicate sustainability information, there is usually no malicious intent but poor internal communication. Your marketing team will want to shout from the rooftop how sustainable your business is; but in a rush to do so, it can harm your brand — the very thing they have vowed to protect.
The market is driving companies to be more transparent about their net-zero
They are being asked by their customers, board members, investors, lenders,
regulators and even their employees to disclose their plans on the role they
will play in a low-carbon economy. As they forge their sustainability goals,
research their options, map out their Environmental, Social, and Governance
(ESG) strategies; create ESG committees, assign budgets and explore carbon
they must also make sure they effectively communicate their efforts.
For a business today, communicating how sustainable you are isn’t as simple as
rewriting your mission statement or posting your newest sustainability report;
it goes way beyond that. It needs to be a part of your company’s culture — an
integral part of your brand’s story. It needs to engage your target audiences on
all your marketing channels, make customers and investors take notice, and set
you apart from your competition.
So, how should you communicate your ESG efforts? How do you achieve
has been around for at least the last 20 years. As the world embraces the
pursuit of a low-carbon
more sustainable practices; and a just, inclusive and equitable
it is clear your company will need all its resources to come together to avoid
sending out misleading ESG claims that contain vague language and incomplete
data, as well as embellished benefits that are not quantified. Most of the time,
when companies miscommunicate sustainability
there is no genuine malicious intent but poor internal communication. Your
marketing team will be enthusiastic about shouting from the rooftop how
sustainable your business is; and in a rush to do so, it can cause your brand
harm — which is the very thing your marketing team has vowed to protect.
Join us for a transformational experience at SB Brand-Led Culture Change — May 8-10 in Minneapolis. This event brings together hundreds of brand leaders eager to delve into radical lifestyle shifts and sustainable consumer behavior change at scale. The trends driving cultural acceleration are already underway, and you can be at the forefront of this transformative movement.
So, how do you avoid being accused of
and harming your brand? Make sure your marketing team is included in your ESG
From announcing the purchase of offsets to publishing your sustainability
report, integrating your marketing and sustainability teams is key to making
sure you are true to your brand. It will also allow you to tell a
straightforward story about your ESG journey to net zero and make sure it is
visible on all your communications channels.
Language is one of the top reasons marketing and ESG teams should work together.
Your marketing team knows your brand and keywords that drive traffic, but they
may not know the ESG terms they should use or avoid. They will see marketing
data telling them to use buzzy words that are trending hashtags on Twitter
or fuzzy words that sound nice and are key searches on Google. ‘Net zero,’
‘climate change’ and ‘carbon neutral’ can be considered buzz or fluff words that
should be avoided by some ESG teams because, if used incorrectly, they can set
off alarm bells about potential greenwashing. Marketing and ESG must work
together to decide what language is best for their company and use terms that
have clear meanings and credible data can explain. Make sure what is
communicated is clear and easy to understand. Keep it simple, specific and
verifiable. Use consistent units of measure, list certifications, and
acknowledge third-party verification when applicable. What language or terms you
decided on also need to be used consistently in internal and external
communication materials and regularly used to educate your company’s employees.
After your combined teams have decided on the best language to use, the next
step is to work towards building trust. Not only do your customers need to trust
your brand; the same goes for your employees, future investors, community
members and potential recruits. Be honest and humble about your ESG journey as a
company, both externally and internally. Explain your aspirations, plans and
goals to everyone and what your targets and timelines are. Communicate your
achievements and milestones. Be specific and share the data. Rely on your
marketing team to help translate the technical information and put it in terms
that are easy to understand.
If you remember the days when departments in a company all worked in their own
silo, then you know that today, that just won’t work. Pulling your entire
organization into this journey is vital to building a culture that generates
sustainable ideas, inspires DEI activities, and builds governance change.
Breaking down the walls of those silos and pulling your teams together will
build a company culture focused on educating and being transparent and telling
honest and authentic stories is pivotal in building a strong, trusted and
supported brand the future.
Published Aug 1, 2022 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST
Nancy Fuchs Marshall is VP of Marketing at ClimeCo — a leading advisor, trader, and project developer in the environmental commodities market.