Clarissa Lins participated on a debate organized by the Edson Queiroz Group
What has driven companies to adopt the ESG agenda? Does this agenda serve only to mitigate risks or can it also generate business opportunities? What is the role of leadership?
Those and other questions were the subject of a debate promoted by the Edson Queiroz Group on September 16, 2020, where Clarissa Lins, Catavento’s founding partner, was interviewed by Roberto Costa, Vice President of Institutional Relationship of the group, and Antonio Vidal, Minalba Brazil’s CEO.
During the conversation, Clarissa pointed out that companies have been strengthening their ESG agendas in response to the growing pressure from investors and society, in addition to reflecting a new business vision based on management excellence. It was also emphasized that sustainability should be aligned with corporate and financial objectives. It is a new way of doing business and companies that incorporate it enable long-term success.
A robust sustainability agenda strengthens the mapping of opportunities that generate financial returns, at the same time the promotion of positive socio-environmental impacts. It also allows the use of innovative financing mechanisms, such as green and sustainable bonds, with the potential to promote a reduction in companies’ costs of capital.
There are, undoubtedly, initiatives on the ESG agenda that may not be economical in the short term, such as the electrification of heavy vehicles fleets, with room for investment in research and development. Such resource allocation can and should be done collaboratively with peers, start-ups, and other partners within the value chain. Companies that move first will be able to consolidate competitive advantages.
Also, a robust ESG agenda helps to mitigate and to anticipate risks. In addition to reducing regulatory and reputational risks arising from possible negative impacts on the environment and on society, such as accidents, a robust sustainability agenda promotes discussions about business long-term success. Currently, young people do not admit working in a company that has a high fatality rate. The millennials and the generation Z value companies with women in leadership roles. They also demand transparency about the value chain and the level of emissions generated by the products they buy. Those young people will be the talents of tomorrow, who will make purchase and investment decisions. How do companies intend to respond to such pressures?
Clarissa also reinforced the leadership role when it comes to ESG management. A good leader must “set the tone” on how the company should measure its success. The best leader is the one who is not closed to others, who surrounds himself with talents in order to be challenged, and who is willing to listen to what is different. Listening to what is different, according to Clarissa, is an effective risk management and opportunity mapping. Every leader should ask himself, “who should I be talking to that I am not?”. In this sense, leaders need to have the courage to assume that they don’t know everything, but that they know where they want to go and that they intend to discover the path through partnerships, transparency, and honesty.
Finally, Clarissa addressed the importance of the ESG agenda for building companies’ reputation. In her view, reputation is based on a clear strategic vision and management that demonstrate a consistent trajectory, aligned with ambitions, the so-called “walk the talk”: intentions reflected in concrete acts.
Having an ESG strategy means being in line with the demands of the 21st century. It is looking at the business environment from a broader perspective, incorporating different views and beliefs. It is anticipating risks and mapping non-obvious opportunities. It is attracting talents and leading with purpose.
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