On Thursday, November 2, at 11 a.m. ET, Page will be joined by Michael Maslansky, CEO of maslansky+partners, for a Page Conversation on the Future of ESG Messaging. The call will feature exclusive insights from maslansky+partners. Attendees will be able to ask Michael questions about their research, and brainstorm with their peers on how to best implement ESG strategies.
Below are some brief, actionable insights from the research that will help prime attendees for the conversation.
Identifying the issues with the language of ESG.
- Empty terms make easy targets. Few people understand “ESG.” People are reflexively skeptical of the unfamiliar, and critics can easily atack a term that doesn’t mean much.
- ESG messaging makes things worse when it feels like forced morality. 89% of Republicans agree “too many people are forcing their opinions down others’ throats.” This feeling of being “forced” is the heart of ESG pushback. Messages that frame ESG as “pushing” a set of values, or that use left-aligned buzzwords, fuel these frustrations.
- ESG messaging works when it feels financially material. ESG was developed to assess business risks related to social and environmental factors. Take the politicized terms away and most voters agree companies that pay attention to these factors ARE more likely to succeed.
Adopting the language of “responsible business.”
Less than 1 in 3 Republicans agree “a company that is committed to ESG” is more likely to succeed financially, provide good customer experience, and be a good employer. That percentage jumps to more like 2 in 3 if you ask about “a responsible business” instead.
Compared to ESG, the term is plainspoken, positive, and intuitively profitable. It also starts the conversation on better footing. As companies communicate responsibility, they must:
- Make actions REAL. Eliminating jargon is half the battle. The ESG space is rife with specialized buzzwords that are easy to misinterpret or mischaracterize.
- Connect commitments to the BRAND. Actions are more controversial if they feel inauthentic. Companies must connect each action to how people see their brand.
- Tie back to VALUE, not just values. Frame actions through the lens of delivering value for shareholders and stakeholders, not just “doing the right thing” or “being a force for good.”