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ESG data analytics for informed decision-making

February 23, 2024

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Companies worldwide are embracing all things ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) as a high-priority strategy. Today, sustainability reporting is as important as financial reporting. In fact, sustainability reporting is also an essential part of financial reporting for businesses in certain countries, especially in the EU.

This significant shift from the “financial bottom line” to the “triple bottom line” requires companies to shift their focus. The triple bottom line maintains that organizations should balance focusing on ESG concerns with profits. This is where ESG data analytics comes in to help companies navigate through their ESG goals without impacting profits.

In this blog, we’ll discuss ESG analytics and how it is fast becoming a competitive advantage. We will also discuss a road map to create your ESG data analytics strategy.

ESG data analytics vs ESG data management

Before moving on to analytics, it's essential to understand ESG data. ESG data is information about a company's environmental, social, and governance performance. Some examples of ESG data are:

Environmental aspect

Greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and other pollutants

Water management

Waste reduction

Social aspect

Ensuring fair practices and safe working conditions

Diversity and inclusion

Community engagement

Governance aspect

Adherence to ethical standards and codes of conduct in business operations

Transparent financial reporting

Anti-corruption measures

What is ESG data analytics?

ESG data analytics involves comprehensively evaluating the information related to these three ESG factors and enabling more profound insights. You can use these insights to:

●     Implement responsible and sustainable operations successfully.

●     Align operations with ESG goals.

●     Drive sustainable growth and long-term value.

●     Ensure faster, more accurate ESG reporting.

What is ESG data management?

ESG data management involves collecting, storing, and making use of ESG data. It is important the data collected is stored securely and used efficiently. High quality ESG data management aides with data accuracy as it reduces the need for manual effort and data adjustments which can be prone to human error.

Here is a summary of the differences between the two:

ESG Data Analytics vs Data Managment

How can ESG data analytics fuel your company's success?

49% of the 1,200 largest global companies' revenues come from business activities supporting sustainable development goals (SDGs).Apart from revenue, ESG data analytics offers numerous benefits, including reduced business risks, better NPS (net promoter score), and higher ROI.

1.  Achieve environmental, social, and governance goals

ESG data collection, management, and analytics help you achieve your ESG goals faster. With more clarity in the ESG data, you can better understand, share, and act on the sustainability performance and work towards your ESG goals.

2.  Creating a solid workforce

As new people join the workforce, companies should care about social issues and be willing to change. Companies that care about social and environmental problems and have good sustainable practices are more attractive to job seekers.

3.  Boost customer loyalty

76% of consumers say they will discontinue engagement with companies that treat the environment, employees, or the community poorly. In addition, many consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Data analytics helps you cater to this shift by prioritizing communities and the environment.

4.  Investment-focused advantages

All the benefits aside, one primary reason ESG analytics has taken off in the last few years has to do with investors. 85% of asset managers say ESG is a high priority for their companies. Many central banks and investing firms, including JP Morgan and Blackrock, have incorporated ESG investing criteria into their processes and products. Regular ESG reporting and higher ESG ratings can positively impact a company’s valuation and make it attractive to investors.

5. Identify hotspots for ESG-related performance

ESG data analytics helps pinpoint hotspots and areas for improvement in ESG-related performance. With a comprehensive analysis of ESG data, you can identify areas where more sustainability practices are required. You can also address weaknesses and align with stakeholder expectations.

6.  Data-driven prioritization of ESG initiatives

Analytics bring together past patterns and generate predictive insights. These data-driven insights help leaders double down on their commitments and prioritize their ESG efforts where they are most needed.

7.  Better ESG Reporting

ESG data analytics is your most valuable asset for saving time and resources while improving the quality of ESG disclosures.

What does an ESG analyst do? 

Effective execution of the above steps requires companies to have a defined ESG team structure, including a dedicated ESG analyst. An ESG analyst is integral to a company’s ESG team structure. They research and analyze a company's performance in these critical areas. They see beyond a company's financials and better understand its overall sustainability efforts. ESG analysts report their findings to investment specialists, senior-level stakeholders, and (on occasion) individual clients.

The role of an ESG analyst may encompass a few or all of the responsibilities below:

●     ESG data collection and management

●     Evaluating the company's adherence to sustainability goals, ethical business practices, and social impact initiatives

●     Identifying ESG risks and opportunities

●     Internal and external stakeholder engagement

●     ESG data reporting

●     Collaborating with investment teams to integrate ESG factors into investment decision-making processes

●     Monitor and ensure compliance with relevant ESG regulations

Overall, ESG analysts play a crucial role in guiding a company’s sustainability strategy.

ESG data analyst at work

Steps to create your ESG data analytics strategy

Analytics is crucial to ESG impact. Many businesses and investors already use it to make more sustainable and responsible decisions. Here’s how you can get started.

1.  Set targets

The first step in creating a sustainable ESG data framework is setting goals. What do you want to achieve with your ESG data initiatives? Do you aim for environmental sustainability? Or are you looking to make your ESG reporting better? You must define and integrate your ESG vision, mission, and objectives into your business objectives. Clear goals provide a roadmap for progress tracking.

 Additionally, many stakeholders should be involved in the goal-setting process. These include employees, customers, investors, and community members. Their involvement will help ensure that goals align with stakeholder priorities and are realistic.

2.  Select the right indicators

The next step is to select the right ESG indicators. Along with crucial ESG metrics, such as carbon emissions, water usage, employee diversity, and human rights records, select KPIs unique to your industry's challenges and opportunities. For example, a tech organization might focus on data security and digital ethics as governance indicators.

3.  Leverage automation for ESG data collection

Then, gather and integrate data from disparate sources. Your ESG data may be stored in internal systems, external suppliers, and various databases like offices, factories, stores, vendors, etc. Collecting ESG data in a centralized data repository can streamline the reporting process. Automated software like Zuno Carbon for ESG data management ensures the accuracy and reliability of your data.

At this point, taking a step back and evaluating whether you need to adjust your goals or set new ones based on the new information collected can be helpful.

4.  Integrate analytics into decision-making

Once you have the data, you must organize, normalize, clean, and analyze the information. ESG data analytics tools have these capabilities and help companies compare their ESG performance against industry peers, regulatory standards, and best practices. You can use the insights from your analysis to inform your decision-making, innovation, and reporting.

5.  Share your results

Lastly, communicate your progress to all the stakeholders. The aim is to identify improvement areas, foster transparency, and ensure that ESG efforts are aligned with stakeholder priorities. You can use channels like annual reports, webinars, and social media to share your achievements.

ESG data challenges

In an ideal world, robust ESG data management processes, standardized reporting frameworks, data quality controls, and compliance measures would exist. However, that's not the case with most companies today. Siloed data keeps organizations from reaching their sustainability goals. About 24% of companies say that corporate silos area barrier to ESG progress.

1.  Data quality and standardization issues

ESG data comes from internal systems, external sources, and public databases. Data gaps can occur due to incomplete or inaccurate data. Additionally, ensuring accurate and complete data is challenging because of different methods and frameworks.

2.  Data integration and management

Companies need to integrate ESG data with financial and operational data for comprehensive analysis. Integrating disparate data sources, managing data flows, and maintaining data consistency across different systems and platforms can be complex.  

3.  Privacy and compliance

ESG data often includes sensitive information, like employee or carbon emissions data. This information must be handled per privacy regulations. Compliance with data protection laws while collecting, storing, and processing ESG data poses additional challenges.

4.  Managing stakeholder expectations

Ensuring transparency in ESG reporting, managing stakeholder expectations, and addressing concerns all at once can be challenging.

5.  Balancing profit and planet

ESG and sustainability initiatives requires additional investment and resources. Balancing profits with sustainability is another challenge that needs attention.

Zuno carbon: End-to-end ESG Solution

ESG reporting mandates have grown 74% over the last few years. Most organizations today discuss diversifying the workforce and offer outstanding pledges around ESG factors. But how do you accomplish these tasks without drowning in spreadsheets?

The answer is simple. By partnering with a dedicated ESG platform, companies can automate data collection through integrations, analyze the data for trends and patterns, and generate ESG reports and disclosures. All this ensures consistency, accuracy, and adherence to reporting standards. Combining your knowledge with modern analytical tools allows you to make decisions that align with your ESG objectives easily.

Zuno Carbon is an end-to-end ESG platform that helps you integrate data-driven insights into your carbon emissions reporting.

Book a demo with our team to discover how to utilize Zuno Carbon for your ESG measurement, reporting, and compliance.

book a Zuno carbon demo

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the role of an ESG Analyst?

An ESG analyst plays an important role within a company’s ESG team structure. Their responsibilities can often cover a broad range of tasks, including ESG data collection, ESG risk analysis and compliance monitoring. An ESG analyst often works with multiple teams within a business to collate, organize and analyze data.

What is ESG data management?

ESG data management involves the collection, handling and use of ESG data. It ensures that ESG data is of high quality, accurate and stored securely. The data collected forms part of the data that companies and investors can use when deciding on the sustainability strategy of the company, taking decisions on the sustainability practices already existing in their value chain and the how they will shape their sustainability goals and targets moving forward.  


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