ESG 101

As the pandemic recedes in the rearview mirror, new focus is coming to environmental, social and governance issues
Why all the buzz about ESG?  That's a reasonable question for travel managers, who no doubt have plenty of other things to worry about. One answer might simply be that we're experiencing a perfect storm of developments affecting not just travel, but the business world as a whole. From climate change and the growing need to conserve natural resources to the Me Too movement, Black Lives Matter and other public issues, corporations are being challenged as never before to contribute to the greater good.

Although some might view Environmental, Societal and Governance issues largely through the lens of socially conscious investing, that’s only part of the story. In fact, the principles behind it are being embraced on a widespread basis by both employees and customers, as well as corporate leaders and investors.

"Companies are realizing that ESG is no longer a nice-to-have initiative, but a critical part of running a business," says Eric Friedrichsen, CEO of Emburse, a provider of automation solutions for expense management and accounts payable. Friedrichsen explains that aside from the obvious environmental benefits, ESG is becoming a bigger issue for both investors and sales prospects. "The majority of Fortune 500 companies already report the ESG impact of their business travel programs, and more and more RFPs have questions about sustainability, so I suspect it will be a core part of business within a few years," he says.

While corporate responsibility has been an area of growing interest for some time, the pandemic accelerated already existing trends, says Nora Lovell Marchant, vice president, global sustainability, American Express Global Business Travel. That includes an expanded focus on including traveler well-being, duty of care, sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion, or DE&I – not to mention the spotlight the roll-out of digital health passes has put on data privacy and cybersecurity.

Categories: Special ReportDuty of Care and Risk Management

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