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Our Social Invest director, Luke Cross, is a judge for the PRMoment ESG awards. With several years of experience in the role, he’s compiled a list of key things he’s looking for when reviewing entries…

These sorts of awards are a great way to show why PR and comms needn’t be the ‘villains’ in the ESG saga.

Instead, they have a job to cut through the noise, help internal and external stakeholders understand what we mean by ESG, communicate where ESG, sustainability and impact intersect, and provide challenge around transparency, credibility and accountability (and greenwash!).

I’m also very pleased to be judging ESG report of the year – an area where we at Social do a lot of work!

So here’s what I’ll be looking for:

1?? Style over substance: of course the report needs to be engaging, readable and accessible. But it also needs to be evidence-based, data rich and credible. It’s not always an easy balance to strike.

2?? Is this actually an ESG report!? I don’t really mind whether you decide to call it an ESG, sustainability or an impact report – as long as you clearly define what it is, and what your definition is of said theme is. If you’re calling it ESG, tell us what you mean by ESG. It’ll save everyone a lot of time – and you a lot of hassle! Whichever you go for, robust measurement will be key.

3?? Know and state your audience: very often an ESG report or set of disclosures will be aimed at investors. But we all know ESG has taken on a wider meaning in the corporate world. While not ideal, I think that’s okay – but be clear about who it is for too, as that’ll shape the tone and language.

4?? What are your ESG priorities? Make it really clear and show how you’re tracking against these, ideally with forward-looking commitments.

5?? Prove it: we can all make sweeping commitments around net zero etc. But what evidence are you offering, and what framework (s) have you adopted – and what are the pros and cons of said framework (s).

6?? Don’t get into a spin: the thing about ESG and/or sustainability is that no company is where it needs to be yet. We all have further to go, and more to do. So if you’re only focusing on the good and omitting the bad or the controversial, or even just missing out the areas where you know you can do better, then you’re weakening credibility in the eyes of your audiences, from investors to consumers.

7?? More than a report: the report is ultimately an output of what is a much wider approach; your ESG approach or strategy. But it is also a channel through which you can explain how the approach has been embedded into culture, strategy and operations.

8?? Winning isn’t everything! Okay so everyone wants an award right? But approaching sustainability as a competition is a dangerous game – and one that encourages greenwash.

Thanks to Ben Smith and team for organising again, and having me back!

View the shortlist.