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‘Media & PR have a powerful role in fighting climate change’

Recognising that businesses are not isolated communities anymore but are entities that function within a framework of laws in a community, and use up a lot of natural resources, the India Public Relations and Corporate Communications Conference (IPRCCC) conference saw an in-depth discussion around ESG (environmental, social, and governance) practices and its impact on our world in a session on ‘Decoding ESG’.

The day-long conference, which was held on Friday in Gurugram, hosted celebrated names from the public relations, corporate communication industries along with academicians and influencers.

The panel moderated by Gayatri Ramanathan, Senior Director, ESG & Sustainability, Kaizzen included Arupendra Mullick, VP TERI Business Sustainability Council, Rajiv Tikoo, Senior Journalist, Sonal Singh, Head - Corporate Communications, Jindal Stainless Limited, Smita Pandey Mishra, Founder, Fandoro Technologies and Sunil Kumar Sinha, Senior Director and Principal Economist, India Ratings. Highlighting the significance of the subject for companies and corporates today, Sonal Singh of Jindal Stainless shared that almost 50% of media queries received are now directed towards ESG. “It is a clear indication of how the reputation compass is now pointing towards ESG as one of the main pillars and drivers of corporate reputation,” she stated. She elaborated how there has been a discernible and big shift for manufacturing in the last few years wherein ESG has come to be viewed as a far more expansive and mature version of CSR.

Setting the context in which ESG is positioned today, Sunil Kumar Sinha of India Ratings said, “Today corporations do not see ESG as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is more of a strategic tool where they constantly have to communicate to the people at large that so far as environment, or good to the society is concerned we are doing our bit. And so far as governance is concerned, investors can rest assured that we are not doing something that will eventually kill the company and they’ll lose the money.”

Conveying the relevance of ESGs from the point of view of startups, Smita Pandey Mishra of Fandoro Technologies, said startups struggling for resources and survival may not be majorly concerned about ESG initially. She stressed that it is important to change the lens they are looking through and say that they are not doing something extra for somebody else. “What we are going to do here is your own business continuity plan, risk assessment and management.”

One of the core factors driving startups, much like larger enterprises, to adopt these ESGs and SDGs (sustainable development goals) practices are investors and the customers, noted Mishra. The stakeholders comprising customers, regulatory bodies, employees, investors are actually driving ESGs to startup founders. “If as a business you don’t have a purpose and you are not able to marry that purpose with ESG, then the whole process is going to fail,” Mishra stated.

Bringing in the media perspective for ESG, Rajiv Tikoo said, “The USP of ESG is data. The unintended benefit of ESG could be that it could help to reclaim trust because its all about data at the end of the day.”

Noting that going forward increasingly ESG will become a part of the MCA 21 filings, Arupendra Mullick of TERI Business Sustainability Council, stated that from now until that point of time, how do we adopt digital economy on ESG would be a key point, which will not be possible without the active involvement of communicators and stakeholders.

The panellists agreed that these sustainability practices are not meant to be short fixes to one’s image but these are long term goals to engaging your community better, in retaining your employees better, in having motivational levels go up and having overall safety and hygiene standards be at equitable standards with your global counterparts.

Lastly, the panel also shone a light on the powerful role media and PR can play in keeping a check on businesses by punching holes into their claims, and thereby push companies in the right direction, noting the immense scope for publicity in this area.

Original Source: e4m


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