ESG Implementation–Strong v Weak Revisited

“A healthy corporation acts on the interests of its stakeholders and customers”

— Ari Melber, Journalist

Currently, organizations are being implored to implement Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) driven business models.   Proponents even suggest that investment in organizations that do not have this imprimatur should be avoided or even divested.

However, one wonders what has changed?  Successful firms, private and public have long understood that they must add value to their constituencies.  One example, a few decades ago an energy services provider used its high volume oilfield pumps to help a small town in Kansas where it had a district office drain flood waters.  Why would they do this?  Perhaps because employees lived in this community or perhaps it was just the right thing to do.

Flash forward and we find organizational largess still in place.  During the recent Texas freeze, a local furniture retailer opened its doors to dispossessed individuals and families.  The owner has a long record of supporting the community and his responses to local disasters is legendary.

After the Deepwater Horizon incident in April 2010, our firm started to look at Asset Integrity issues in oilfield operations.  Our discoveries transcended several Critical Infrastructure segments.  The recent failure of the Colonial Pipeline is a manifestation of issues uncovered yet not resolved more than a decade ago!

Focus on Operations

In 2011, we posited that organizational governance was not just a financial issue at the ‘C’ level.  Rather its true focus should be at the revenue generating asset level.  This led to our 2011 groundbreaking monograph, Asset/Equipment Integrity Governance: Operations–Enterprise Alignment.  Therein, we posited a new governance model that incorporated the ESG components widely discussed today.

Moreover, in 2014 our book, IMPLEMENTING A CULTURE of SAFETY: A ROADMAP FOR PERFORMANCE BASED COMPLIANCE identified the requirement for organizations in the Critical Infrastructure space to change governance models to one of Strong Bond.

Following the release of our AIG model, we put forth a Strong v Weak governance model to manage High Reliability Organizations (HRO) necessary for firms in Critical Infrastructure sectors.  Strong Bond is appropriate for organizations in Critical Infrastructure segments, while Weak Bonds may be better for retail.

One suspects that ESG is another tick in the box.  If ten years (or earlier) from now another critical system fails, it will not be because HRM processes were not followed or ESG verbiage was in the annual report Letter to Shareholders; it will be because nothing really changed.  As of this writing the US Federal government is advising organizations in Critical Infrastructure sectors to more aggressively address cybersecurity risks.

Why is this? Do Boards and CEOs need politicians and bureaucrats to tell them about the details of running a business?  If they do, investors may want to revisit their portfolios.

One suspects that the ESG fad will fade. There will always be a new management mantra that consultants will put forth.  Well run organizations will remain well run.  Others not so much.

Governance models come and go.  Regardless, how will you assure your organization is well run?

For More Information

Please note, RRI does not endorse or advocate the links to any third-party materials.  They are provided for education and entertainment only.

For more information on Cross Cultural Engagement, check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game

We presented, Should Cross Cultural Serious Games Be Included in Your Diversity Program: Best Practices and Lessons Learned at the Online Conference, New Diversity Summit 2020 the week of September 14, 2020.  Check Out this timely event and contact the organizer for access to the presentations!!

You can contact this author as well.

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