Businesses claim ESG issues are just marketing puffery

plastic_n1Most businesses continue to behave as if environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are just a sideshow, with many believing it is simply a marketing exercise and others in the dark over whether their firms actually have an ESG policy.

According to a new GlobalData report, only 33% of businesses have changed their behaviour in the past year to achieve ESG goals, while 15% claimed their firms continued to implement existing ESG practices. That means that less than half of the corporate world is taking some form of ESG action.

Meanwhile nearly a third (30%) of respondents did not know if their company had taken any action, while almost a quarter said that it is just a marketing exercise for most companies, and only 27% believed that companies are fully committed.

Despite highlighting shortcomings, GlobalData’s Thematic Sentiment Analysis also reveals some encouraging signs, as attitudes seem to be improving.

One sign of improvement is that the share of respondents who said that the business community is fully committed to ESG is at its highest level since GlobalData started asking the question in 2021.

The study follows a Chartered Institute of Marketing report which revealed that marketers are increasingly nervous about over working on sustainability campaigns due to fears that their company or clients will be accused of “greenwashing”.

The survey, which quizzed over 200 marketing professionals in the UK, found nearly half (48%) fear being criticised for greenwashing even though 55% recognise sustainability as a business priority, and a similar proportion (51%) admit climate change could threaten the very existence of their business or clients.

At the time, CIM marketing director Gemma Butler said: “Every marketer should remind themselves that their job is not just about driving click-throughs or marketing a product. They are in a unique position to influence social change, mediating the relationship between brands and their customers. They should act as a catalyst for positive change and have an important role to play in making sure that brands have sustainability high up on the priority list.”

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