By the ProEdge team | Published: March 8, 2022 | Read time: 6 minutes
With increasing investor interest in everything from climate change to diversity and inclusion, more companies are reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics than ever before. According to PwC’s most recent CEO Survey, meeting customer expectations was the number two motivator for mitigating climate change risks. Number one? Their own desire to solve climate problems and be more transparent.
Those who aren’t on board with this trend will face mounting pressure. Regulatory bodies in the European Union and the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are ramping up their ESG oversight. In addition, the World Economic Forum and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation are likely to release standards soon.
ESG reporting is quickly becoming a key investment in your company’s future. The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Institutional Investors asserts that 88% of investors believe companies that prioritize ESG initiatives represent better opportunities for long-term returns than companies that don’t.
So, how do you get started?
Developing and implementing an ESG strategy can be daunting, but the right tech can help. Data-gathering and analytics tools, streamlined reporting capabilities and automations can help reduce the time it takes to receive insights. That could also mean achieving compliance faster and providing the kind of reporting transparency that breeds trust.
People and technology should work together if you’re going to make ESG-driven changes to your operations, value chain and organization. Start by selecting the ESG metrics that are a material value driver for your business, such as employee diversity and inclusion, greenhouse gas emissions, employee health and safety, or data security. You also need the means to confirm your ESG data is accurate and reliable. This requires developing policies, processes, internal controls and governance similar to those for collecting and disclosing financial information.
For companies to go from limited to leading, they need real-time reporting and analytics, as well as effective policies and compliance monitoring. ESG Pulse, a PwC Product, can help companies with these activities by helping them discern their data’s maturity, understand the disclosure process and uncover gaps.
Using highly visual dashboards, automated data-gathering tools and critical benchmarking capabilities, ESG Pulse allows operations to improve their business reporting. It can reduce the complexity and potential errors around gathering information across geographies, divisions and groups. These data-gathering capabilities enable users to send multiple surveys to numerous stakeholders simultaneously.
The automated workflows in ESG Pulse make it easier to track responses and send out report completion reminders. You can get real-time results and analysis without having to manually update reports. You can also schedule reports to help with benchmarking against internal metrics and other organizations.
UiPath robotic process automation (RPA) and process mining technology can simplify a significant part of the ESG compliance workload and help automate and expedite ESG compliance. But before you automate compliance, you need to understand:
Where there may be compliance issues as well as improvement opportunities.
How you’ll be able to monitor compliance improvements.
How third-party assurance over your ESG data can reduce liability, among other benefits.
Process mining technology can spot opportunities for automation as well as offer continuous monitoring. It gives you visibility into your business processes so you can identify inefficiencies, fix applications and automate time-consuming repetitive tasks. Process mining can help:
Provide full transparency across all business processes
Complete audits across all process data (not samples)
Identify audit risks and compliance breaches in near real time
Spot continuous improvement opportunities
With advanced technology, you can accelerate the time it takes to deliver ESG audits and help increase their fidelity, accuracy and quality. Combining process intelligence tech with the data-gathering power of ESG Pulse could conduct an audit across all process data, not just samples. This could mean near real-time identification of audit risks and compliance breaches, which could increase the speed and accuracy of ESG audits. A tech-enabled audit can also speed up recommendation implementations to fix and optimize processes.
Training your people in process mining and RPA technologies, in conjunction with boosting ESG acumen, can enable you to deliver on ESG commitments in the near-term—and sustainably in the long-term. PwC’s ProEdge delivers content in process mining as well as ESG topics. Learners can even earn ProEdge ESG Credentials.
In collaboration with faculty thought leaders from the New York University Stern Center for Sustainable Business, ProEdge offers foundational ESG content anchored in real-world case studies, including:
Climate change and business strategy
A guide to understanding ESG materiality
Measuring ESG performance and impact
Understand and track the business case for sustainability
Sustainability strategy and governance
UiPath courses on process and task mining, also delivered through ProEdge, can help your people quickly and easily identify opportunities to automate processes. Your people can learn how to identify and aggregate employee workflows as well as you apply artificial intelligence (AI) to help identify repetitive tasks, which you can then add to your ESG activities automation opportunity pipeline.
The key to tech-powered ESG compliance and reporting of the future? Start with reliable data. Then combine robust data gathering and analytics capabilities with strategic automation, driven by process mining results and powered by your own upskilled workforce—who know your business better than anyone.
The right tech can help you start the journey. Consider implementing tech that can help you:
Wrangle your data and streamline the kind of reporting that builds trust.
Implement process mining to find opportunities to automate where you can.
Upskill your people in ESG and process mining so you can build expertise in-house to meet your challenges in ways that better align with your organization’s needs and values.
To move your company toward investor-grade ESG reporting, you’ll need to:
Decide on your ESG strategy and metrics.
Define process and governance steps to have confidence in your reporting.
Design your reporting architecture and technology.
Tell an authentic and coherent story.
Treat ESG reporting like the integrated effort it is. Create an architecture that includes data sourcing, aggregation, calculation, validation, reporting and analytics. Leverage existing financial reporting architectures to the greatest degree possible. Map each ESG reporting element to the architecture. Above all, be transparent. Transparency is critical to deepen trust among stakeholders.
Leading companies are using human-led, tech-powered solutions for ESG reporting. This isn’t just a box-checking exercise—it needs to be action-oriented and focused on outcomes. ESG compliance involves people and tech working together to drive that action with reporting and data that you can stand behind, now and in the future.
Related blog post
Enabling enterprise ESG transformation with upskilling
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