Livingston James Group, including sister brands Rutherford Cross and Livingston James, recently held a roundtable discussion for leaders from the Scottish Business Community. This group was formed last year and is focused on providing a peer group to discuss specific topics that are prevalent as part of a leadership role. We were kindly hosted by Barclays at their state-of-the-art campus in Glasgow.
This particular session was focused on ESG and specifically what it means for Finance Teams. We were delighted to have Anne Johnstone, Head of ESG from Vital Energi join us to give her insights into this highly topical subject. Anne has held positions in leading environmental and building consultancies, as well as running her own business supporting real estate funds through the implementation of ESG and net-zero strategies.
The discussion covered a variety of areas, such as:
- What is ESG and how it differs from sustainability
- The various topics which come under the Environmental, Social and Governance banners
- Why ESG matters to Boards, and how they consider and assess climate-related issues
- The reasons why the Finance Team is critical to ESG
Key takeaways from the session include:
- Companies should prepare ESG reporting with the same level of precision and detail orientation as financial disclosures
- Selecting a reporting framework and benchmarking ESG can expose areas to reduce waste (including financial waste), implement risk mitigation, and lower the cost of capital
- By understanding ESG performance, finance teams can look at capital allocation to ensure opportunities that bring financial returns, deliver environmental or social benefits, and increase accountability to stakeholders are captured
- The importance of ESG being incorporated into a whole business, rather than being seen purely as a risk framework
- The businesses that see the greatest success are those that incorporate ESG into their values and purpose and have a joined-up approach across the entire organisation