ESGmark® - What, Why and How?
BY JULIA FAWSLEY GRANT, Head of Communications at ESG Mark
ESGmark® - who we are and what we stand for
Ancient + Brave are one of ESGmark®’s founder members. We came together when we were both starting to get our feet off the ground, and make ripples in our respective ponds. Ancient + Brave are everything we look for in a community member – committed, unafraid, inclusive, holistic and compassionate.
It thrills us whenever we see our logo on their marketing, so for those of you who are curious as to who we are, here is the ESGmark® potted history of the why, what and the how.
Why we were founded
Our founders Justin and Portia have worked together for many years in the finance world. As part of their work they realised that Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)-focused investing was becoming ever more important to both the investors they worked with, and their investors’ clients. They also realised that organisations of all sizes wanted to play their part in addressing the climate crisis and working towards a fairer society for all.
Sustainability is a complex and constantly evolving area and they quickly saw that help and guidelines were needed to simplify what can sometimes be a baffling set of letters, acronyms and assurances. They set out to develop and provide a comprehensive framework of straightforward action points for those seeking to make positive changes. Thus, ESGmark® was born.
What we’re trying to achieve
ESGmark® does two things – first, we award the ESGmark® certification to qualifying companies looking to formalise and articulate their existing ESG credentials, whilst supporting the organisation to improve them (attainment of the ESGmark® and therefore the right to display our logo is just the starting point of an ongoing process).
We work across all industries and sizes as we believe that every company and organisation, regardless of what they do, can and should contribute positively to the world around us.
ESGmark® supports businesses at whatever point along the journey they are – Ancient + Brave were already doing incredible work before they joined and clearly believe the sky’s the limit when it comes to their own positive impact. Other companies we talk to are just at the beginning of making that change, whilst most are somewhere in between. We believe we can play a role in helping every company and organisation use their voices and actions for good.
Second, ESGmark® is a community. Making change is never easy but doing it together lightens the load. There are two parts to our belief in the power of community – firstly, that our members can benefit from the experience and wisdom of other members. There is so much to be learned from your peers and we find that business owners and brands are unstintingly generous when it comes to sharing their know-how.
Change happens when people come together. Combining our efforts to drive positive change around environmental and social impact amplifies our efforts and turns individual missions into collective momentum. Until very recently, traditional corporate-think held that committing your company to purposeful causes, as well maintaining a healthy profit margin, was considered naïve at best. The past two years have seen that turned on its head as consumer demand for values-led products has soared, and companies leading the way in sustainable development have outpaced their profit-first peers, across almost all sectors.
We act as a hub to bring these value-driven companies together, creating a cause and helping to galvanise the movement around positive impact.
How to become certified
Ancient + Brave passed our certification process with flying colours. This is no mean feat given that our process is deliberately rigorous. Keeping our standards high ensures that our community is made up of genuine innovators and change makers with a real commitment to the policies and values that inform their business. Importantly,, the process is also straightforward and collaborative. We take the time to really understand what makes a business tick and what they are doing to make the world a better place. Moreover, how we can best help them on their journey.
We take in every element of an organisation’s environmental, social and governance policies – from breastfeeding policy to water waste reduction, we don’t focus on one specific area because we believe that positive impact should be completely holistic.
All this is done in face to face meetings and discussions. We never want to be just a portal to upload documents into – we want to be supporters, advisers, consultants and ultimately partners. Even where a company doesn’t meet our qualification standards, we give them a full report of where they’re doing well and how they can do better so that next time they apply, we can welcome them into the community. There is no limit to the number of times a business can apply because we appreciate that change happens over time so where someone is working hard to improve something, we should give credit where credit is due and recognise that effort.
We’re very excited about the next 12 months . New regulations are coming in that will oblige companies to accurately measure their carbon footprint, be more thoughtful in their eco-claims and treat environmental stewardship as seriously as their VAT returns.
Consumers are becoming ever more savvy when it comes to checking a company’s ethical credentials before buying from them, and there is real grass-roots pressure to make sure businesses are using their influence and profits for a good cause.
We think we’re coming to a tipping point where being a sustainable business becomes the only business-model available. If you’re not sustainable, you’re not going to be a successful business.
Ancient + Brave fly the flag for all of this and as much as we hope they value their ESGmark® membership, we value them as members. There is so much our community can learn from them – as well as us in the ESGmark® team. If you want to see the dictionary definition of a responsible business, turn to ‘A’ for Ancient + Brave.