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Creating a Culture of ESG: Why Senior Leadership and Employees Matter

Toby Graham

Creating a Culture of ESG: Why Senior Leadership and Employees Matter

As the importance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives continues to grow, so does their complexity. Companies need a comprehensive strategy for their ESG initiatives in order to be successful, and part of that is making sure that two key groups—senior leadership and employees—are on board with the plan. Without buy-in from leaders and employees alike, ESG initiatives can easily fall flat.

Senior Leadership’s Role in ESG Initiatives

The role that senior leadership plays in any initiative cannot be overstated. They set the tone for how the rest of the organization views certain initiatives; if they’re not behind something, it’s very unlikely that anyone else will be either. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that senior leadership is aligned with your company’s ESG initiative. Not only do they need to understand what it is and why it’s essential, they also need to support it by providing proper funding and staffing as well as reinforcing that ESG is an organizational priority.

Developing and reporting on ESG is a demonstration of strong corporate leadership and governance. But how do you get one off the ground?

We’ve listed out 5 steps to developing your ESG strategy, and we’re be going through each of these in more detail to get you started.

Three things you can do to get leadership on board.

1. Demonstrate what success looks like

The first step to getting senior leaders to buy into ESG initiatives is to help them understand what success looks like. This means creating specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals for the initiative. Without these goals, it will be difficult to show senior leaders the value of investing in ESG initiatives.

2. Communicate the business case

To get on board, senior leadership needs to have a solid understanding of the business case for investing in ESG initiatives. This means highlighting how ESG initiatives can help to improve financial performance, attract and retain talent, and build a positive reputation. It is important to remember that senior leaders are ultimately responsible for the bottom line, so it is essential to show them how ESG initiatives can help to achieve this.

3. Provide a clear plan

Your plan should have clear, tangible goals. And when you’re presenting this plan, make sure your stakeholders are aware of their roles in making it happen.

Employees’ Role in ESG Initiatives

When it comes to developing an ESG culture within your company, getting your employees on board is essential. After all, without them engaging with these initiatives day after day, there won’t be much progress made toward achieving real sustainability goals. Fortunately, sharing the company’s commitment to its ESG initiative presents an excellent opportunity for culture building. Just like safety training helps create a culture of safety at work, teaching employees about different aspects of sustainability can help create a culture where everyone supports each other in striving for sustainable business practices.

Three things you can do to ensure employee buy-in for your ESG initiative

1. Communicate the Benefits of ESG Initiatives

Why should they care about reducing the company’s environmental impact? What are the social responsibility benefits of participating in ESG initiatives? How will good governance help the company succeed? When employees understand the benefits of ESG initiatives, they will be more likely to buy into them.

2. Make it easy for employees to get involved.

Don’t make it difficult for employees to get involved in your ESG initiatives. If you make it too complicated, they will likely be turned off and less likely to participate. Instead, make it easy for them to take part in these initiatives, whether it’s through providing information or offering incentives.

3. Lead by example.

As a leader, you should set the tone for your company’s ESG initiatives. Show your employees that you are committed to these initiatives by leading by example. This will help to inspire them and show them that you are serious about making positive change.

ESG initiatives are complex endeavors that require buy-in from both senior leadership and employees alike in order to achieve success.

Senior leaders need to be both aligned and supportive while also providing adequate resources; this will ensure the long-term success of any initiative related to environmental sustainability or social responsibility. Meanwhile, sharing the company’s commitment to its ESG initiative provides an excellent opportunity for culture building among employees as well as employee satisfaction and retention through meaningful engagement with meaningful issues. It’s clear that when senior leaders and employees work together on this important issue, positive outcomes are sure to follow!

How KPA Helps Support Your ESG Goals

KPA’s here to help by providing consulting, software, and training to align with your ESG mission.


KPA provides consulting and training to help ensure you’re minimizing your impact on your local environment. This can span ensuring compliance with environmental regulations, to helping develop strategies and best practices for reducing your environmental waste streams.


KPA’s 35 years of health and safety experience are here to help you develop an initiative that shows you put people first. Rely on safety program data, comprehensive training library, and usage metrics to demonstrate your organization values people both inside and outside the company.


Lean on KPA’s comprehensive policy and training libraries along with in-depth reporting to demonstrate your organization follows good governance practices. This is governance that spans ethical sales practices, adherence to a comprehensive code of conduct, and audit trails that demonstrate your commitment to good governance.

KPA’s technology and expertise can help you make successful strides toward fulfilling your ESG mission.

Toby Graham

Toby manages the marketing communications team here at KPA. She's on a quest to help people tell clear, fun stories that their audience can relate to. She's a HUGE sugar junkie...and usually starts wandering the halls looking for cookies around 3pm daily.

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