This week, as we are in the full swing of Mexico’s 4Q20 earnings season, I want to address a few questions we often get from publicly listed companies: how can I show my ESG initiatives in my quarterly earnings release? Do I need to produce quarterly ESG indicators? Should I bother with doing any of this?
Well, the answer to the first two questions depends on how advanced the company’s ESG journey is. If it truly has indicators that can be updated every quarter, and they relate to material sustainability topics for the company, then the company should definitely add them to quarterly earnings releases. If it does not have them (do not worry, it is uncommon to have them), then we do not recommend that the company adds the same indicators every quarter since this will make investors brush off the ESG section altogether (even if companies do sporadically add new info to it).
In the end, quarterly earnings releases should reflect what companies achieved during said quarter. This should apply both to financial and non-financial topics. In other words, whatever the ESG strategy achieved during the quarter should be reported (be it through KPIs or through explaining the main achievements or problems for the period).
So, to summarize our answer to the first two questions:
- Share bullets on what the company worked on during the quarter.
- Was a new project launched?
- Did the company get the results of a materiality analysis?
- Did the company receive a new ESG rating?
- Are there new datapoints for any of the ESG KPIs?
- Be concise.
- Be transparent. If there is nothing to report, say the company is still focused on the same initiatives and it will update the market when there is a new development.
- Be consistent. For the market to be able to measure the progress, it is important to report on the same topics with the same approach (unless it is justified to change it).
- Be ambitious. Share your ESG goals for the year and commit to them.
- Put the same text every quarter.
- Put the same indicators, which will only be updated once per year, every quarter.
- Be afraid to make your KPIs and KPI goals public.
- Feel you must write a long paragraph just to fill the space.
- Change your indicators every time to make it seem like your performance is better than it actually is.
Now, to answer the last question: yes. It is definitely something any and every company should bother with. We have discussed in the past how relevant ESG is becoming for investors globally. Being able to include ESG information in your quarterly reports shows the management of your ESG strategy is more robust. It also helps put your ESG strategy top of mind of very busy investors who are flooded with information every day. We recommend giving this some thought, and if you want our advise, do reach out.
And a final thought… If a company is not ready yet to put ESG data or achievements in writing (or even when it is already doing it), don’t forget the CEO’s script for the earnings call is also a great place to talk about ESG.
I hope you found this interesting. As usual, if there is anything we can help you with, please reach out.
Partner, Miranda ESG
Contacts at Miranda Partners