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Enabling enterprise ESG transformation with upskilling

By the ProEdge team | Published: February 21, 2022 | Read time: 5 minutes

The economic realities of environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements are becoming more tangible for many organizations. But even as the need to make commitments toward progress grows more urgent, enterprise ESG transformation momentum is slow. And  confusion around reporting standards and regulatory complexity aren’t helping to move the needle.

Navigating the measurement, management and reporting challenges associated with meeting decarbonization and social equity goals requires a unified, all hands on deck approach. When you help individuals across all business functions understand ESG practices—and give them the skills to act on them—ESG can quickly become embedded into corporate strategy and action. 

Tell your ESG story

Companies that drive their ESG transformation most successfully communicate their ESG story internally. Leadership must be transparent about ESG goals and objectives and how it all fits into the broader organizational strategy.

Employees are eagerly waiting for this communication to make decisions on employer choice. The majority of employees are more likely to work for a company that stands up for ESG values—84%, 83% and 86% respectively. But in order for employees to know your organization’s commitments, you must communicate your promises.

Communicating corporate-wide goals helps create a culture built on trust, which 75% of business executives are keen to do. And when employees trust you, they’ll help drive ESG outcomes so customers, investors and stakeholders feel the same. 

When you can unify senior leadership and leverage the ESG data to cascade priorities throughout the business, you help break down silos between finance, risk, compliance, manufacturing and other teams—all of whom can work together to drive progress. 

Turn information into action with upskilling 

Imagine a new world in which investor meetings about ESG don’t require you to hire an outside consultant or ESG specialist because your managers know how to describe and defend material ESG risks. Imagine that the lack of insights and initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and ESG are a thing of the past and that you have the annual reports to prove it.

Helping individuals understand ESG—and how they can help the company by taking action within their own function—that’s where real change happens. When employees get specificity on function-specific contributions they can make, everyone in the organization moves in the right direction together.

Upskilling helps align learners to corporate goals so they have the necessary skills for now and into the future. It’s more than a perk. It’s a holistic and purposeful approach that can drive change—using organization goals as a framework. Upskilling propels organizations forward on paths to workforce transformation, innovation and growth.

Give employees opportunities to build multidisciplinary skills

With upskilling, you can help develop employees’ skills in ESG analysis, reporting, research, communication and regulatory knowledge. At a minimum, employees should have access to learning the technical aspects of ESG including climate change concepts and business implications as well as material ESG risks and opportunities.

Those with technical experience can build better models and more easily conduct data analysis. With some digital upskilling, they can also build tools that structure, visualize and tell the story of data so your company can comply with regulatory requirements and help build secure investor relationships.

Your newly upskilled ESG ambassadors should have the ability to combine their new knowledge with broader perspectives and functions. Risk, compliance and internal audit teams can better collaborate with finance. HR can better steer talent acquisition and retention efforts. And manufacturing and marketing staff can open the lines of communication and ESG data reporting with a common mission.

Training should also include the skills that help create new solutions and drive progress, even during difficult conversations. Employees should not be afraid to speak up or ask tough questions especially as the organization strives to build trust and transparency. 

Soft skills like communication, teamwork, leadership, creativity and problem-solving help complete the mosaic of ESG specialization. Employees that understand inclusion, leadership, integrity and attitudes toward risk on an individual level can be more effective in navigating the long-tailed nature of ESG issues and the politics and constraints that come with them.

ESG is for everyone

When it comes to ESG, companies need a plan to mitigate risk and create new value. Beyond reporting, commitments and promises, you need to be able to hold your business accountable. Upskilling programs are part of the success strategy.

PwC’s ProEdge, an end-to-end upskilling platform, can help drive your ESG transformation through experiential learning, function-specific credentials, courses and content exchange.

To accelerate ESG learning, employees can take the ESG for Everyone course, which provides an overview of ESG to help employees recognize the evolution of ESG and topics covered under each pillar.

The ESG for Everyone credential helps you quickly align employees to your organization’s mission and provides a bridge between a promise of change, broad understanding and the function-specific courses for greater speed and depth of proficiency. 

Move the needle on ESG with credentials 

PwC’s ProEdge team collaborated with the New York University Stern Center for Sustainable Business to provide actionable knowledge and enable transformation through courses like Climate Change and Business Strategy, Sustainability Strategy and Governance and Sustainable Finance and ESG Investing.

To propel an integrated ESG-minded organization, teams across finance, tax, IT, manufacturing, sales, risk, compliance and internal audit—and more—can access function-specific learning content. 

Each function has access to foundational information on climate change concepts including business implications, carbon markets, taxes, frameworks and regulatory trends. Employees also gain an understanding of ESG materiality including risks, opportunities, common frameworks from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the development of a materiality matrix—the first building block for strategy.

From C-suite to new products to marketing, functions dive deep into ESG topics that can help drive organizational transformation, for example:

  • Finance learns how to prepare 10-K disclosure statements

  • HR learns how to use an ESG report to further company recruiting

  • Sales examines climate development and its impact on company sales

  • Customer service and success teams learn how to synthesize ESG strategy so they can properly communicate to customers

  • Risk, compliance and internal audit teams learn how to develop proposals for mitigating ESG material risks and how to determine disclosure methods of climate risks and opportunities

At the end of the course, learners complete function-specific capstone projects in order to confirm their skills and earn a verifiable digital badge.

ESG transformation requires you to act faster and go deeper in finding, creating and sharing value. With ESG upskilling you can say goodbye to theory and hello to action with enterprise-level transformation where employees drive change on every level.

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