Preparing for an Effective ESG Ratings Season: 5 Tips to Get Ready

Planning for a successful approach to kickstart your CSA 2022 submission
Preparing for an Effective ESG Ratings Season: 5 Tips to Get Ready
Publ. date 3 Feb 2022
As the corporate reporting season is in full swing, ESG ratings such as those that determine the constituents of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and CDP A-list are opening their assessments soon. If your company has decided to participate in S&P Global’s Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), this article proposes five steps to use the remaining months wisely and get ready for the CSA to open in early April.

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Last November, Finch & Beak conducted an ESG survey among DJSI-eligible companies. The overall conclusion from 143 respondents is that for most of the companies, the undesirable trade-off between index and impact occurs frequently as a result of mounting workloads to generate ESG data and the absence of standards.

Leveraging ESG assessments to streamline data collection and build coalition of ambassadors

When asked about the main challenges with implementation, “Collecting and managing ESG data across the business” was mentioned almost twice as frequent as the numbers two and three on the list, “Engaging employees, building a culture of sustainability” and “Changing existing policies, procedures, or systems.”

By participating in ESG ratings like the Corporate Sustainability Assessment, the company gains experience in streamlining its data collection process, and setting up an organization of ambassadors that make an individual contribution from their own field of expertise, such as HR, Supply Chain, Legal or IT. This also solidifies the notion that the company’s ESG performance is not just a responsibility of the sustainability department.

Diving into the Corporate Sustainability Assessment for 2022

S&P Global will open the new questionnaire on the 5th of April for companies that are eligible for inclusion in the DJSI. With the clock ticking, companies are well-advised not to wait to tackle the challenge of collecting and managing ESG data across the business. Using this time wisely to determine improvement areas, brief topic experts and align expectations on responsibilities can go a long way in realizing an efficient and successful submission process.

Built on Finch & Beak’s more than 15 years of experience in supporting companies on completing and leveraging the CSA, this article proposes five steps to use the remaining months wisely and get ready in time.

1. Check your eligibility and industry classification
S&P Global has published the invited universe for 2022 and will be sending out the first invitations for the CSA 2022 in February. Companies can refer to the invitation list to verify their eligibility and industry classification.

2. Engage employees & draft the project plan for short & mid/long-term actions
Gather all internal stakeholders for an internal kick-off session in which existing ESG results are reflected upon, and the 2022 project plan can be shared. Useful tools to develop your company’s project plan are:

  • ESG Program Canvas: The canvas is designed to create the big picture on where your sustainability strategy currently is and how it connects with the assessment criteria in order to identify your company’s improvement potential. Part of the process is to rank interventions based on both impact and feasibility, in order to differentiate low- hanging fruit from more structural and long-term improvements, such as updating policies, procedures, or systems.
  • Summary of 2021 DJSI results: Finch & Beak’s summary of the results webcast hosted by S&P Global includes the most remarkable outcomes of last year’s assessment including clarifications on topics such as Climate Strategy, Biodiversity, Labor Practice Indicators and Talent Attraction & Retention.

3. Sign up for Finch & Beak’s CSA Activation webinar
On March 9th, Finch & Beak hosted a webinar that took a deep dive into setting up for successful participation in the Corporate Sustainability Assessment in 2022. Keynote speaker Edoardo Gai, Managing Director, Head ESG Benchmarking at S&P Global Sustainable1, gave insights into the key trends driving the ESG agenda, and the forthcoming methodology changes for this year's CSA. Click here to read the summary article including the key take-aways.

4. Streamline data collection: anticipate methodology changes for the upcoming assessment
The methodology changes for the 2022 assessment have now been announced by S&P Global. Download our summary to find out which changes apply to your industry, and inform your topic experts about what they can expect. Important changes are applicable for Climate Strategy, Operational Eco-Efficiency, and Occupational Health & Safety. Additionally, the criterion of Biodiversity has been newly added to the questionnaire of 31 industries, including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunication services.

5. Get in touch to accelerate your ESG benchmarking results
With over 15 years of experience in ESG Benchmarking support including DJSI, Finch & Beak is one of Europe’s leading experts in improving our clients’ sustainability programs and ESG performance.

The Finch & Beak company vision is to accelerate sustainability. Our ESG and sustainability strategy work is characterized by a continuous improvement method that leverages existing assets in the short term while identifying opportunities for strategic development in the future.

If your organization is looking to accelerate its sustainability performance, please download our service description or contact Josée van der Hoek, Director and DJSI expert at josee@finchandbeak.com or call +34 682 048 301.

Photo by Ronan Kruithof on Unsplash

About Nikkie Vinke

Multidisciplinary advisor in ESG benchmarking, sustainability strategy development and execution. | nikkie@finchandbeak.com

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