Responsible Investing, Producing & Marketing

Responsible Investing, Producing & Marketing

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) needs a set of guidelines which, after a short but reasonable test period, can become auditable requirements. That means that good behaviour, decent standards and measurable compliance should become statutory for all corporate bodies in the very near future. The requirements for these bodies at present are to do their jobs, whether profit-making or not, regardless of the impact on the rest of us. This is unsustainable and yet the measure of success – certainly of a profit-making business – remains solely profits, in practice. This will only change when you and I demand that it should change.

As consumers we are increasingly being asked to behave in an environmentally acceptable way. We must sort our rubbish, refrain from using plastic bags, reduce our travel, buy electric cars and, increasingly, invest in green companies. Rightly most of these have been made matters of law. The individual has limited power and, even at a time of populist uprising, can do little to protect himself or herself from the consequences of these changes. What applies to the individual should equally apply to the corporation, whether big or small.

Now is the time to demand that it does.

The principles for Responsible Investing, Producing and Marketing (RIPM) have been elucidated in many places. The practical consequences they have are not usually spelt out. If we are not clear of the consequences we are unlikely to be sold on the necessity. That is when nothing gets done. It is now a real fear that the message that planetary troubles are down to human abuse will leave all of us unresponsive. Even in Australia there are people whose homes, along with 2,000 others, have been destroyed by drought and fire but who deny climate damage.

Exhortation to change the playing field for businesses won’t work.

The belief that you are only in business to make money is irretrievably established. The other priorities we now need for businesses must be measured – in however crude a way – and reported as an important part of a company’s duty.  The following – very preliminary – guidelines therefore need to be made statutory and measured.

[1] Disclosure of all emissions, extractions, pollution, land & water use, non-recyclables, indestructables.

[2] Environmental benefits of products, services, processes, recycling.

[3] A measure of [2] Vs [1].

[4] Labour dependency; training and development programmes; retirement fund planning.

[5] Management rewards related to and measured by ALL the matters in [1] and [2] above.

While not comprehensive this would establish a basis for proper corporate assessment. There will be many who say that this will restrict corporate growth. It probably will. It will decrease planet pollution disproportionately and will therefore be a net benefit. It will also help the planet to survive. There will be those who don’t care about the future of the planet. They must be made to care. The issue is not one of whimsical option, it is one of dire necessity.

Wealth generators have always held much of a society’s future in their hands. They have also always had much opportunity to enrich themselves at others’ expense. Arguably that didn’t matter so much when the consequences were wealth and poverty. Now they are survival; it matters more.

When we are all thrown into a stormy sea without a lifeboat, we must help each other.

If some don’t want to, they must be made to.

Compulsion is legitimate now.