Three-quarters of European chemical distributors surveyed by Finch & Beak Consulting say their organization struggles with collecting and managing ESG data across the business— making it the biggest challenge companies are experiencing when it comes to their sustainability programs.
Other top challenges include budget and resource limitations; changing existing policies, procedures, or systems; and building the business case for making long-term investments in ESG.
To a lesser degree, companies also struggle with engaging employees and building a culture of sustainability and keeping track of evolving stakeholder expectations.
Barriers to collecting and managing ESG data
So what are the roadblocks? For one, goal setting doesn’t seem to be a problem. Three-quarters of companies have already selected KPIs and targets on most important ESG topics, Finch & Beak found.
Nor does it seem to be a planning issue. More than two-thirds have a multi-year sustainability roadmap or action plan in place.
Instead, it’s more likely to be a lack of knowledge and training. Employees at all levels of the organization — not just the sustainability function — need training to understand the company’s ESG goals and the types of data that need to be collected. Yet, just 12% of companies said they are utilizing employee training and capacity building on sustainability.
Effective training helps employees understand their role in the company’s sustainability data collection efforts. When training is done well, it lays the groundwork for a data-driven culture involving all employees, at all levels, every day.
In addition to the skills gap, many companies have encountered difficulties with establishing standardized processes across all their locations. Around one in five companies surveyed said that navigating geographic or business unit-specific differences across the group was a challenge.
This is one area where implementing a centralized, comprehensive EHS/ESG system can help. Having all employees across the company use the same system — regardless of their location or role in the company — helps ensure that data is collected consistently. It also ensures that data is accurate, because everyone is following the same steps and collecting information in the same format.
For example, if you’re using an EHS/ESG software system like Perillon, you can build standardized templates for inspection forms. Using standardized forms goes a long way toward ensuring that inspections are completed the same way across many different work sites. And, because the information is recorded in the same format every time, it’s much easier to get out of the system for reporting.
Furthermore, a centralized system that is integrated with your other enterprise systems (such as ERP and financial systems) provides transparency across different departments and locations. Data captured across the organization syncs to the centralized system so that all of your business units have access to the same information in real-time, which simplifies reporting even further.
Overcoming ESG data challenges
Collecting and managing ESG data is a challenge, to be sure. But if you combine effective training for all employees with the right ESG management tools, then your data collection efforts should be much easier.