AUSTRALIAN businesses will need to substantially boost investment in ESG compliance but also market engagement and reporting in order to meet global benchmarks and stakeholder expectations, according to a new report.
Leading Brisbane-based consultancy BBS Communications Group has delved into the ever-growing significance of ESG to business, and in particular corporate communicators, with the launch of its new CommsWatch report series, launched today.
BBS Communications Group Head of Research and Analytics Amanda Firth said the series focussed on pressing economic and social trends and issues.
“As Australia works towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and regulatory requirements continue to evolve, ESG reporting is firmly in the spotlight,” Ms Firth said.
“Together with growing stakeholder, public and media scrutiny, there is significant pressure on businesses to better understand, act and report on ESG factors, which made it a fitting topic for the inaugural edition of CommsWatch.
“As custodians of internal and external communications which outline and promote an organisation’s ESG-based efforts, marketing and communications leaders and teams play a direct role in ensuring the accuracy and transparency of any claims made.”
The report found a series of recent global and Australian developments have intensified the urgency for all Australian businesses – public and private – to advance their ESG efforts and reporting.
“The specific issue of greenwashing has been a key focus for both the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) this year, with the latter launching its first greenwashing-based legal action in March 2023¹,” Ms Firth said.
“The Australian Treasury completed its second round of consultation into climate-related financial disclosure in July 2023² and just last month, the ACCC closed consultation of its draft principles aimed at improving environmental and sustainability claims integrity³.
“As regulatory requirements sharpen over the coming years, communications professionals will need to deploy robust strategic, analytical, communications and engagement skills, and to collaborate closely with key technical specialists across areas like assurance and risk, financial relations, operations and policy development.”
In terms of media, the report found there to be numerous ESG-focussed media outlets around the world, with local mainstream, business and industry-focussed outlets covering related issues.
“This presents both an opportunity for organisations to profile their efforts, as well as a need to boost their readiness to provide accurate and compelling proof points to journalists,” Ms Firth said.
“Reporting frameworks, tools and analysis will be key to tracking and reporting on claims in ways that make sense to clients and customers, investors, financiers, collaborators and decision makers.”
The full report is available for download at www.bbscommunications.com.au/resources
¹ Australian Securities & Investments Commission. (2023, February 28). Media Release: ASIC launches first Court proceedings alleging greenwashing. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/news-centre
² The Treasury. (2023, June). Consultations: Climate-related financial disclosure: Second consultation. Commonwealth of Australia. https://treasury.gov.au/consultation
³ Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. (2023, July 14). Media Release: ACCC publishes draft guidance to improve businesses’ environmental claims. Commonwealth of Australia. https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-publishes-draft-guidance-to-improve-businesses-environmental-claims