Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
I take these verses from St Matthew’s gospel as the basis of good governance. Unless the tree is good , there can be no good fruit.
So it is companies with sound environmental practices, strong social purpose and governance that ensures that the organisation is a force for good are prospering relative to the market.
ESG – or environmental, social and governance to its friends – hasn’t gone away. Not by any stretch of the imagination. When the dust settles from the coronavirus pandemic, the practice of investing in companies that conform to various ESG standards, whether it be to do with carbon emissions or workplace diversity, will be still a growing force in capital markets.
If anything, the coronavirus pandemic presents an opportunity for those investors with ESG mandates to truly flex their muscles when they meet management teams ahead of a capital allocation decision. Particularly when it comes to the ‘S’ and the ‘G’ in ESG.
It’s often said that under extreme pressure you see someone’s true character, and it’s no different for business.
So here are three questions that you should be asking of your business , whether you own it, manage it or invest in it.
Does the pandemic offer insights into our environmental practice?
Do we need the car-fleet?
Do we need to visit analysts in the City driven in in limousines?
Do we need to travel to conferences?
Do we need to meet face to face at all?
Do we need to fly between continents?
Do we need the office car- park?
Do we need the office?
Is our business essential to society?
Are we running a business that is in society’s interest or just our shareholders?
Will society miss us if we were not there?
Are we worth preserving?
Should we furlough our staff or mothball our organisation?
What do we have to do to make ourselves essential?
Are we well governed?
Are we bringing forth good fruit?
Are we kind?
Do we call out the bad?
Do we change when we find weakness in us?
At every level
Many of us work in large enterprises where we cannot individually impact the whole. We can only impact that part of the enterprise which we are in control of. In this crisis we are increasingly self-managed.
When I go out into the streets of the City of London I see many examples of good governance, I see construction workers finding ways to do complex jobs while staying apart from each other. I see sign-in books placed in the middle of office atriums and I see examples of courtesy amongst those driving , biking and walking.
People are looking out for each other as never before. I find courtesy is at the very Heart of the City (an organisation I am proud we are a part of).
This new-found responsibility for our behaviour is founded not just in self-preservation. We are taking to wearing masks not for us but for others, when we social distance, we don’t just think of us, but of the impact of our actions on the health service and those who work in it. This is environmental, it is social and good governance and it is happening whether you are a construction or office worker.
The wonderful Dotun Adebayo has had a rift with his neighbour, he’s been playing his radio too loud. The matter is discussed on early morning radio, conclusions reached, actions taken – ESG in action.
The novel-virus asks us to look at how we behave in terms of E-S and G
Yesterday I got a solicitor’s letter from a firm demanding I cease and desist from naming them for unnecessarily furloughing staff.
I am not in the business of fighting my battles through lawyers, I’ve furloughed my criticism but not my sentiment.
The firms who furlough and do so that they can come back stronger, have my support- all million plus of you.
Firms who furlough to maximise the bottom line, must ask what purpose they have in drawing upon the public purse.
By their fruits ye shall know them.