30 ways in 30 days

Getting started on your ESG committee

November 30, 2023
30 ways in 30 days

Getting started on your ESG committee

In our 30 ways in 30 days series, we're sharing 30 essentials to developing or refining your company's sustainability strategy and action plan. To dive deeper, download our Field Manuals.

Sustainability is not a one-person job.  It takes a dedicated, cross-functional ESG committee to guide an organization toward sustainable and socially responsible decisions. Forming an ESG committee isn't just a choice; it's a strategic imperative that creates accountability, distributes responsibility, improves communications, builds buy-in, and ensures alignment with reporting frameworks and the expectations of ESG raters and rankers for governance.

We’ve put together a step-by-step process for getting started on your ESG committee:

Why create an ESG committee?

An ESG committee ensures that ESG risks, opportunities, and priorities are properly managed. The committee will:

  • Create and execute an ESG strategy
  • Ensure proper management and oversight of ESG risks and opportunities 
  • Elevate ESG issues to engage senior management and board of directors
  • Lead ESG reporting efforts
  • Measure ESG metrics to hold the organization accountable for progress 
  • Communicate ESG to inform internal and external stakeholders

Who is on an ESG committee? 

An ESG committee is a cross-functional team that includes director-level employees. The exact roles and titles of committee members will vary across organizations, but should include representatives from: 

  • Sustainability / Environment: Specialist who will collect and manage data around emissions, waste, water, or energy. Note: for companies early on in their sustainability journey, this may not be a dedicated functional area. Personnel working in Operations may be tasked with these efforts and should be included in the ESG committee
  • Human Resources: Colleague who is involved with setting goals and gathering metrics focused on DEI, employee engagement, recruitment, or employee wellbeing
  • Community Relations: Employee working in community engagement, corporate giving, or social impact who will have expertise in community relations and engagement 
  • Finance / Accounting: Professional who works in data analytics, accounting, or even finance, who has insight into data management and disclosure at the organization
  • Communications / Marketing: Expert in communicating the brand story around ESG
  • Legal / Compliance / Risk: Colleague who is familiar with regulation and reporting 

Who leads and manages an ESG committee? 

The committee should be organized to report to a senior executive sponsor, responsible for leading the committee.  Day-to-day management of the committee is coordinated by a director-level employee. 

The ESG committee should report to executive leadership and to the Board. Board briefings on ESG should happen annually, at a minimum, and build to quarterly briefings on ESG strategy, risks, opportunities, and progress. 

How often should an ESG committee meet? 

The committee members should meet quarterly, at a minimum, and likely more frequently during the development of ESG strategy or when gathering information for an annual ESG report.

Have more questions? Get in contact with us, or download our field guides for more insights.

Getting started on your ESG committee
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