How to Create ESG Goals (Step-by-Step)

  • By: Tara Astbury
  • November 29, 2023

In order to determine how well an organization or government institution is managing its environmental impact, social responsibility initiatives, and overall governance strategies, orgs often measure against predetermined environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals. 

For instance, a city administrator may set an ESG goal to decrease its carbon footprint by 20%, while the HR department of a technology company might aim to achieve gender parity in its workforce.

Creating sound ESG goals helps local governments and organizations show stakeholders they’re making progress on sustainability and social impact, all while managing their risk. 

This in-depth guide provides a step-by-step process to creating ESG goals.

What is ESG?

ESG is a three-pillar approach to assessing and managing the sustainability, social impacts, and risk of companies and organizations. Specifically for local governments, it helps evaluate their commitment to sustainability, social responsibility, and effective governance, all of which can influence policy decisions, community wellbeing, and the overall quality of public services.

Types of ESG Goals

ESG goals fall into three primary categories:

  • Environmental goals focus on reducing or offsetting environmental impacts. Examples include reducing emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and transitioning to renewable resources.
  • Social goals relate to social impact initiatives, such as improving job security, expanding workforce diversity, and creating economic opportunities for underserved communities.
  • Governance goals center around strengthening organizational policies and practices, such as instituting transparent reporting protocols, preventing fraud and corruption, and increasing board diversity.

How to Create ESG Goals (Step-by-Step)

Use the following step-by-step resource to create ESG goals that guide everyone from the mayor and city manager to the city treasurer and city clerk.

1. Assessment and Baseline

The first step is to conduct an ESG assessment of your organization. This provides an overview of the current state of affairs and helps identify areas that are ripe for improvement. It will also help you develop actionable, measurable goals that align with your organization’s mission.

Follow these simple steps to complete the assessment:

  • Gather ESG data: Collect data from internal and external sources to understand where your organization stands on ESG metrics.
  • Analyze trends: Examine the data to identify any positive or negative ESG trends.
  • Assess benchmarks: Compare your ESG performance with that of other local governments or relevant benchmarks to gain insights into how your organization stacks up in terms of ESG practices and standards. This can highlight areas for improvement and best practices to adopt.

2. Stakeholder Engagement

Involve key stakeholders, including community members, employees, and local businesses, in the assessment process. Their input can provide valuable perspectives on ESG issues and help shape your local government’s priorities and goals. Ways to engage stakeholders include sending surveys, hosting a public forum, or adding a feedback page to your website. 

Effective stakeholder engagement not only enhances the quality of your ESG assessment but also fosters trust and collaboration between your local government and the community it serves. It demonstrates a commitment to transparency, inclusivity, and responsiveness, which are fundamental principles in building a sustainable and socially responsible government.

3. Goal Setting

Now, it’s time to set your ESG goals. Start by determining ESG criteria, such as short-term versus long-term objectives, and whether they will be applied to the government as a whole or specific departments.

Then, develop SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that are tailored to the needs of your organization. For example, a city might set an ESG goal to implement waste reduction programs to minimize the amount of waste the city generates by 10% in two years.

4. Integration and Implementation

The next step is to ensure your ESG goals are integrated into the organization’s core operations and processes. This involves creating an action plan that outlines how the goals will be implemented, who is responsible for each task, and what resources are needed. For instance, the city might assign a team to lead the waste management initiative and allocate funds for purchasing equipment or hiring additional personnel.

For successful implementation, follow these best practices :

  • Communicate the plan: Keep stakeholders informed by outlining the objectives, timelines, and expected outcomes.
  • Appoint a leader: Designate a team leader to oversee implementation and act as a point of contact for all stakeholders.

5. Monitoring and Reporting

Finally, it’s important to monitor and report on the progress of your ESG goals. ESG reporting involves reviewing performance data on a regular basis to determine if you are on track to meet your objectives.

Here’s how to ensure successful monitoring and reporting:

  • Create a dashboard: Use an ESG dashboard to track progress and visualize the impact of your initiatives.
  • Set up performance indicators: Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the success of specific goals.
  • Audit regularly: Have an independent third party audit your ESG reports to ensure accuracy and credibility.

How eScribe Facilitates Improved Governance

Nothing beats the power of technology in facilitating improved governance. eScribe’s  reasonably-priced meeting management software offers a powerful ally for organizations and governments seeking to improve their governance processes, including the development and management of ESG goals. eScribe excels in this endeavor by offering the following features

Meeting manager: By simplifying agenda management and meeting preparation, Meeting manager allows governing bodies to devote more time to substantive discussions on ESG matters.

Meeting minutes: eScribe’s meeting minutes feature ensures every discussion, decision, and action item related to ESG goals is meticulously recorded and readily accessible.

Reporting and workflows: eScribe provides robust reporting capabilities, allowing organizations to generate in-depth reports on ESG ratings and performance. Workflow management tools help streamline ESG goal implementation by automating tasks and responsibilities, making it easier for organizations to meet their objectives efficiently.

Collaboration tools: Collaboration tools enable board members to engage in meaningful discussions, solicit input from stakeholders, and foster a more transparent decision-making process.

As organizations and governments continue their journey toward better governance, eScribe provides the tools needed to navigate the complex terrain of ESG governance, making the pursuit of sustainability and social responsibility that much more achievable.

Check out this City of Greensboro case study for an example of how eScribe helps city councils manage their operations with increased transparency and accountability.