Navigating the ESG quagmire.

I am always struck by how everything in life and business is a matter of trade offs. In every decision, we have to weigh a complex set of factors and implications and hope that we made the best decision given our understanding of the trade-offs. ESG has complicated this because it is often viewed as an absolute, a purity test.

To show our commitment and fealty to ESG, we set goals and timelines without first understanding the trade offs required to get there, only to face the horrifying fact that things change and the present is much different than we forecasted it. We then must revise or back off our earlier commitments we which so proudly proselytized to the employees that these were in fact sacrosanct. These reversals are confusing and demoralizing to the employees who interpret the actions as putting profits before principals.

Things change and everything is a trade off. It is better to build a culture of trust, ethics, integrity and a commitment to move forward with principle that everyone can get behind and make decisions. By empowering people in this way, your ESG goals will be achieved as they should be, as part of the path of building a long-lived sustainable company.