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New report: Educate, Measure, Speak up: How businesses can get ahead with ESG

Less than a tenth (8%) of businesses have a fully realised environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, despite nearly four in five organisations accepting that ESG factors impact their brand or reputation - a new report by The Open University has found. Published today, it explores business leaders’ attitudes and knowledge of ESG and barriers to adopting a strategy, such as existing skills gaps within their organisations.  

Surveying over 500 UK businesses, the report highlights that this disconnect between awareness and action is due to blockers such as a lack of financial resources (28%), missing essential skills (24%), and complexity (23%).

The report sheds light on the ESG skills gap as more than four-fifths (80%) of businesses who engage in ESG accept they lack the right skills in each of the three ESG pillars. The skills gap has been exacerbated by inflation and rising business costs which has put pressure on learning and development budgets. UK business leaders agree that ESG is a priority, but they are struggling to put training plans in place to equip employees with the skills required to meet ESG. 

In light of these challenges, the report aims to aid businesses on their ESG journeys and details how organisations can bridge the existing skills gap. The report, which includes insights and advice from ESG experts, encourages business leaders to educate themselves and their staff, measure their goals and use their voice to speak up in order to successfully implement ESG strategies within their businesses. 

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This report reveals that ESG conversations are happening frequently in all sizes of businesses, which is really encouraging. Whilst conversations are taking place, it’s crucial that strategies are put in place to help employers develop ESG-related skills and ultimately work towards future-proofing businesses, their workforces and the communities they serve.

Dr Victoria Hands
Director of Sustainability, The Open University


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