Sarah Keith (main photo) is group managing director of Active International Australia and Involved Media. In this guest post, Keith discusses the impact of Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and what it means for adland…
There’s plenty of discussion about the significance of Environmental Social Governance (ESG) right now. While many companies understand its importance and are making good headway, it is also true that many (not all) media agencies and marketing services suppliers still have a way to go in understanding and embracing this key purpose-led industry trend.
Embracing ESG is not simple, but a clear and compelling purpose should be at the heart of every company’s effort to deliver positive impacts on the environment and society, as well as to clients and media partners.
Even without B Corp certification, a company can and should believe that through products, practices and profits, the aspiration to do no harm and provide benefit to all is not only important for the bottom line long-term, but also for the business’ survival.
Earlier this year we moved our Sydney business to a new office in an older building. This meant understanding how we could minimise our environmental impact by looking at input saving technologies and processes (ISTPs) during our fitout. Our learnings are applicable to any business looking to improve its ESG.
Some examples of ISTPs Involved and Active are now adopting are:
- Passive features: increased use of natural light
- Resource conservation features: improved insulation, efficient lighting controls, and lower water consumption fixtures
- Staff training in energy efficiency and recycling
It is vital that a company’s ESG commitments are more than ticking boxes. To live and breathe our commitment we take a three-pronged approach covering people, clients and media.
Delivering more inclusive and sustainable media buying starts first with our people.
Like many others, we have set up mandatory diversity and inclusion training as part of our compliance training program and hiring policies. In addition, our wellness committee encourages us to participate in a range of events to help us better understand how to help our clients connect with multicultural audiences and better represent Australia’s diversity.
Clients are the next focus in our ESG commitment, as we believe that consumers want the brands they use today to be an extension of their beliefs.
This means that both the strategy and account teams work with clients to provide meaningful insights into how consumer wants and needs are changing – something that has been amplified during the global pandemic. By utilising our global network alongside syndicated research database tools, we have been updating our clients on answers to important questions including what is changing for brands, and why do brands need to identify and align themselves with a purpose?
Reviewing the partners with whom your business works with, are in your supply chain, or are even a direct contact in the wider industry is a vital component in an ESG policy.
This should include the flagging of companies that engage in negative environmental practices, that fail to meet emissions standards, or that mistreat employees. We actively promote the view that ESG-focused firms that disclose and promote their sustainability credentials and sustainable products attract more interest in most segments of the market today.
Some examples of the tools and methods we implement in this process are:
- Using technology to monitor, filter and block inappropriate content
- Working with only trusted and independently verified partners to ensure quality and accountability
- Protecting clients through contractual agreements with our partners that go beyond standard agreements of media trading
- Promoting and taking a proactive lead through industry initiatives such as the Trustworthy Accountability Group, a global initiative that is working to stop criminal activity and increase trust and transparency in digital advertising
Of course, no technology can fully verify brand safety in traditional media, however, you should consciously select and choose media placements that are not only suitable for the campaign KPIs but also the brand’s ESG stance.
So, it’s not simply about jumping on the ESG bandwagon. We’re setting up what we believe is an important foundation for most media agencies. We understand that our ESG commitments are going to be forever shifting and under constant evaluation, but while our people, clients and partners may vary from time to time, our vision will not waver.
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