Herlene Benjamin, a professional in the oil and gas industry and an aspiring female leader, discusses combatting prejudices and creating space as a strong female leader.
Distance Learning MBA participant, Griff Bromfield-Jenkins, shares what ESG means to him and how it has impacted his career and MBA experience so far.
Having spent the majority of my career in the compliance and governance arms of various organisations, mainly within the buildings and construction industry, the term ‘Environment, Social and Governance’ (ESG) has meant a lot of different things over the years.
When I first started in this kind of role, the main focus was on how you could protect the organisation from legal prosecution, ensuring that the business complied with regulations and that there was evidence readily available to protect it should it be required. That was the industry accepted standard, the fact that you were limiting the impact on the environment, improving diversity and inclusion and employee safety and wellbeing was a by-product from the fact that the company was protected.
This opinion started to shift, specifically in the UK, where ESG, known then as corporate responsibility, became a priority both for the government and organisations. This had a key focus on employee safety and wellbeing and reducing the impact business activities had on the environment. I could see the benefits for businesses who adopted this culture, this way of working, both to their performance and profit margin but also on the wellbeing of their staff and communities where they operate. It was due to this that I selected my undergraduate degree, which had a focus on employee safety, wellbeing and environmental management.
The recent elevation in focus, following the development and adoption of the United Nations sustainable development goals, and a general desire from the public for more conscientious organisations, has led to a lot organisations adopting ESG as a core principle, as part of their culture, their way of doing work, and the benefits are being realised. These businesses have improved performance and therefore being identified as opportunities for better investment, as well as having motivated and engaged workforce and a loyal customer base because of adopting ESG principles. Effectively, they are companies that everyone wants to do business with because of the way they operate, not because of charities they donate to or initiatives they support.
My current position is an innovative role, to develop, promote and embed a culture that embraces ESG and firmly places it as a core principle in the company’s ways of work. I am currently implementing a strategic proposal and associated measurement models and initiatives in order to fulfil this ambition.
It was this aspiration that led me to want to develop my knowledge of businesses and how they operate, and Warwick Business School’s (WBS) programme is enabling me to do just that. WBS have incorporated ESG into all the modules I have studied so far, including leadership, marketing and financial management, with a great focus on operations management where the objective was to identify process efficiencies using ESG principles. There is a wide range of ESG based electives, including specific leadership and finance modules, which I am looking forward to exploring further.
Business Strategy expert Michael Porter describes the change in approach in the following quote:
“Businesses must reconnect company success with social progress. Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success. It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the centre. We believe that it can give rise to the next major transformation of business thinking.”
This is the future.
Find out more about the Distance Learning MBA here.