Charities warned over 'reactive and fragmented' approach to environmental, social and governance issues

Many charities have a “reactive and fragmented” approach to addressing environmental, social and governance issues, a new report warns. 

Research conducted by the business consultancy C&E Advisory for its annual Corporate-NGO Partnerships Barometer report, which assesses the state of partnerships between companies and charities, indicates that many voluntary sector organisations do not have a holistic approach to ESG issues. 

The first part of the report, which is based on input from more than 100 major corporate brands and NGOs through polling and qualitative discussions, has been published today. 

It says that only slightly more than a third of corporates believe their non-profit organisations or partners have a holistic ESG plan or framework in place. 

“From identifying and mitigating risks, and leveraging opportunities, to helping organisations to fully live their stated values, the benefits of taking a holistic approach to the planning and delivery of ESG practices have been well demonstrated,” the report says. 

“And after several leading development organisations and charities have faced recent criticism for poor safeguarding, environmental, supply chain, and other practices, it is notable that such high proportions of non-profits appear not to take a holistic approach to tackling ESG issues – or poorly communicate their practices in this regard.”

Manny Amadi, chief executive of C&E Advisory said many non-profits could be leaving themselves open to serious risks, as well as justifiable criticism in the future. 

“While many non-profits have clear, core social and environmental missions to which they dedicate resources and on which they often demonstrate laudable results, it is often not evident how effectively such organisations perform on other ESG issues,” he said. 

“For example, activities designed to achieve desirable social outcomes may have harmful environmental effects – and vice versa.”

He said it was imperative that charities thought holistically about the importance of the ESG agenda for their future evolution. 

“No one actor or sector has a monopoly on doing good. In a world in which ‘trust us because ours is good cause’ is unlikely to meet stakeholder expectation for transparency, being perceived as a deserved paragon of virtue in one regard, may not be enough to defend against criticism in an unrelated area,” he said. 

Most admired partnership

C&E also revealed today that the tie-up between the retailer Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support has been named the most admired corporate partnership for the second year running. 

The partnership aims to ensure that people affected by cancer have access to the best information and support in their local community. 

The partnership between Tesco and WWF-UK, which aims to halve the environmental footprint of the average UK shopping basket, was voted into second place by participants in the C&E research. 

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