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Why Collaboration is Key to ESG Success

Meryl Gibbs, Emerging Industry Lead, Appian
November 21, 2022

Companies are facing increasing pressure to demonstrate progress toward decarbonizing their operations and decreasing the environmental impact they have on their communities. Many investors are already considering ESG (environmental, social, and governance) scores, especially metrics related to greenhouse gas emissions, when making business decisions. With mounting regulatory pressures resulting from the executive order President Biden signed last December calling for government procurement to model environmentally conscious purchasing, and impending SEC regulations, many companies will soon have no choice but to take dramatic actions to improve their environmental, social, and governance impact.

The question is, how will they do so? And is there a way to make it easier?

Proposed SEC regulations would require companies to set science-based targets, make a plan to meet them, and report progress towards their plan. It’s likely that the SEC will begin auditing climate-related data soon. The thin veneer of “green” messaging many businesses are using will not pass muster going forward.

But even among organizations with earnestly set climate goals, many are struggling to access the data they need to generate insights in a timely manner. In part, this is because the data is distributed across systems and teams that may not have interacted frequently before.

Let's dive into the top three challenges organizations face in managing ESG data and how they can improve collaboration both internally and externally.

1. Effectively manage data across the organization to tackle scope 1 and 2 emissions.

They’ll need to automatically collect data as it is created in real time, have transparency in reporting and workflows, and establish clear governance to make sure the right people have access to the right information. Managing these projects using manual tools like email and spreadsheets is slow, inefficient, and leaves your organization vulnerable to human error. Building the right systems to integrate, report, and manage this data automatically will enable better executive oversight and decision making.

2. Connect and collaborate with other organizations to calculate scope 3 emissions.

Another major challenge for organizations is calculating scope 3 emissions—the emissions from the goods and services purchased by a company as well as the emissions when customers use their products.

Calculating scope 3 emissions requires companies to collect data from outside their organization. And a core problem companies face when collecting scope 3 emissions data is the lack of incentive for suppliers to share that data. And that’s not surprising, since for many businesses, this represents an unprecedented level of transparency between customer and supplier.

To overcome this roadblock, organizations need to build a culture of trust and collaboration with their suppliers. Building an infrastructure that makes it easier to collaborate and share data is also crucial. Organizations should look for solutions that can help their suppliers automate data sharing and boost transparency across groups.

3. Accelerate ESG initiatives with an agile platform.

At the Reuters Responsible Business conference earlier this year, an executive cited the African proverb "If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together" to emphasize the need for collaboration in addressing climate change.

It's true that we need to go far to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. But we also need to change fast, arguably faster than ever before.

This challenge calls for a solution that can facilitate both unprecedented collaboration and speed, because organizations need to drastically transform the way they operate while continuing to deliver business value.

We at Appian believe that connecting data, people, and systems in a unified platform at speed is the key to successful collaboration.

Anglian Water has leveraged the Appian platform to do just that, developing a solution to reduce their environmental impact. Appian effectively tracks their emissions reductions, enables collaborative planning, and consolidates all of this activity into a single unified system for enhanced visibility. The platform also provides them the agility and flexibility they need to meet changing user and regulatory requirements. With Appian on their side, Anglian Water is now well positioned to meet their carbon goals. Watch the video below to learn more.