ESG in Communications: Unveiling the Synergy Between Sustainability and Strategic Messaging


In a dynamic collision of corporate responsibility and effective communication, the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) Summit 2023 in Brussels brought together industry experts to unravel the complex world of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) communications. Under the spotlight was a riveting panel discussion titled "ESG Regulation, Rising Activism, and the Future of Sustainability Communication - Are You Ready?" The insights from this discussion shed light on the challenges and triumphs that companies face when conveying their sustainability stories in an ever-evolving landscape.

Effectively communicating ESG initiatives is paramount in today's business climate. At the EACD Summit, seasoned panellists shared their valuable perspectives and real-world examples, providing a glimpse into the strategies and tactics that drive successful sustainability messaging.

Michael Dickstein, Corporate Affairs Director Europe and Africa for Duracell emphasized the significance of strategic partnerships as a driver of impactful sustainability communication. His call to action was unambiguous: forge alliances with academic institutions, policymakers, and influential entities like the United Nations. However, it was his intriguing suggestion of "partnerships that hurt" that captured the audience's attention. This notion challenged companies to form collaborations that push boundaries and truly make a transformative impact on sustainability. Such alliances, Dickstein argued, are catalysts for innovation and progress.

François de Bie, Senior Marketing and Supply Chain Director at TotalEnergies Corbion shared an interesting case within the supply chain. He illustrated how companies like TotalEnergies Corbion can engage with bottle producers in a unique transactional loop, first selling raw materials to them and subsequently buying back the used materials for recycling. This savvy approach promoted a circular economy concept and fostered a deeper understanding of sustainability across the value chain. De Bie's example underscored the importance of viewing partnerships through a wider lens, transcending immediate financial gains to support long-term sustainability objectives.

While not precisely posed, the ever-relevant question of greenwashing was addressed by Hans Daems, Global Sustainability Communications Director at Hitachi, when he provided his advice on an example of a direct real-life question from a German media. Daems emphasized the importance of transparency in addressing public concerns about the authenticity of sustainability efforts. He advised companies to communicate their sustainability initiatives and successes but also acknowledge what they are still not doing well, providing sound explanations of why. This candid approach builds trust and shields organizations from accusations of greenwashing, ensuring their messaging resonates with stakeholders.

The EACD Summit 2023 discussion underscored the vital role of effective communication in ESG initiatives. By cultivating strategic partnerships that challenge the status quo, fostering sustainable practices within the supply chain, and embracing transparency, companies can navigate the intricacies of ESG communications with finesse. With the business landscape evolving, adaptability and authenticity will be crucial to successfully convey sustainability efforts to stakeholders.

In an era of heightened scrutiny and growing investor interest in ESG factors, companies must proactively distil their communication strategies. By harnessing the power of ESG and weaving it into their messaging, organizations can elevate their brand reputation, captivate stakeholders, and drive positive change in the global business arena.

So, as the economic landscape continues to evolve, the fusion of sustainability and strategic messaging paves the way for a new era of corporate communication. The time is ripe to embrace ESG as a core pillar of business strategy and effectively communicate the journey towards a sustainable future.