ESG: 8 Best Internal Communications Practices

When a business is preparing to debut an ESG strategy, internal communicators may struggle with where to begin. We’ll break down what ESG is, why it’s important and what are the best practices when it comes to weaving ESG into your communications and culture.

What is ESG?

ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. They represent the three main areas companies are expected to report in:

Is ESG really that important?

Investing in ESG has several benefits for an organisation: tap new markets and expand into existing ones, drive consumer preference, reduce costs, reduce risk of adverse government action, attract and retain quality employees, enhance employee motivation by instilling a sense of purpose, and increase productivity overall.

ESG is no longer a nice-to-have. Instead, it’s a fundamental part of an organisation’s brand.

Best practices for internally communicating your ESG plan

Recent studies have also shown that positive social impact correlates with higher job satisfaction. Effectively communicating your ESG internally can help attract and retain quality employees, instill a sense of purpose and greatly increase productivity overall. 

1. Keep change management in mind

Communicating the introduction, reporting and ongoing efforts of ESG to employees ensures all parties are along for the ride. Communicators can empower leaders to make employees aware of the roles they play throughout the journey, educate C-suite leadership in how to introduce ESG internally, noting how this aligns with business goals missions and values, and help them anticipate questions or resistance that can be addressed verbally.

2. Ensure employees understand the “why” and the "what"

That is, why ESG is important to your organisation, and what the company is doing about it. 

A strong ESG strategy will be clearly aligned with the business’ mission and values - that's your "why". Developing a strong communications plan around this will help all relevant audiences stay informed and aligned on what will take place to improve ESG performance. Communicating your "why" can include outlining the goals and milestones, and crafting a clear and concise mission statement that outlines your company's commitment to ESG principles. 

To highlight what your company is doing about ESG, consider sharing quantifiable metrics related to your ESG initiatives (e.g. reductions in carbon emissions, improvements in workforce diversity), develop case studies that showcase specific ESG programs or projects, or highlighting the community impact of your ESG projects, interview key employees involved in ESG projects. 

When choosing the communication channel to share the "why" and the "what", pick a chanel that lets you keep these key messages front of mind with employees in a visually engaging way. Digital signage displays in share spaces, corporate screensaver and the company intranet are ideal channels to consider.

Keeping ESG information front of mind will ensure everyone remains up to date and aware of what the organisation is doing - and it also signals that senior leaders are taking ESG programs seriously. 

3. Consistency builds understanding

When it comes to influencing long-term behaviour change and keeping ESG messages front of mind, consistency is key. Using a technique called "spaced repetition" when repeating your key ESG messages will ensure your messaging is retained. "Spaced repetition" is a science-backed method of repeating your key message over time in increasing intervals – instead of displaying the message on repeat. 

For example, if your ESG project is about getting everyone to play their part in recycling at work, you can conduct a workshop on recycling, then follow it up by reinforcing your key messages via digital signage displays, and promote monthly challenges etc. By incorporating spaced repetition into your recycling education campaign, you can reinforce key messages over time, increasing the likelihood of sustained behavior change.

Not only is spaced repetition a guaranteed way to ensure employees retain ESG information over time, it is also a powerful tool to encourage changed behavior, especially in the context of ESG projects. 

4. Make key messages visually engaging

If the communication platform allows for it, use animation, vibrant imagery and colours to capture and hold attention. That can get quite complicated but if you’re using a digital signage platform like Vibe, our templates are on brand and feature built-in animation, so all you have to do is add your messaging.

screenshot of how Vibe tested recency of ChatGPT information

Animated elements pique interest and keep viewers engaged

5. Be transparent

Transparency grows trust and credibility among staff. Share accurate, comprehensive, and easily accessible information on your company's ESG goals and performance. This can include sharing content like your organisation’s ESG policy, reporting on how key metrics like carbon emissions are tracking, or statements from C-suite executives on what ESG means for them.

6. Get specific

Large companies can have dozens of ESG projects happening at any given time. Communicating about too many at once can be confusing or overload employees. McKinsey recommends clearly communicating no more than five priority initiatives.

7. Don’t forget frontline employees

if you’re only communicating on channels like email and intranet, non-desk employees may get left out of the loop. You could share ESG communications via printed newsletters, magazines, and reports but the best channel would be digital signage screens – it allows you to share real-time messages in a visually engaging way with staff, who wouldn't otherwise have access to corporate devices.

8. Keep content snackable

Save long paragraphs for reports and blog posts. If you’re sharing on communication channels like email, digital signage screens, screensavers or text, you need to keep things bite-sized or risk losing employees’ interest.

screenshot of how Vibe tested recency of ChatGPT information

Increase engagement and memorability with snackable messaging

As internal communicator, you’re more than just a messenger! As ambassadors for change, how you communicate ESG internally makes all the difference. Chat with our team to find out how you can bring ESG communications to life, improve message retention, and boost engagement.

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