Green Expectations

Written by Marcela Balart 

When literary genius, Charles Dickens, penned ‘Great Expectations’ at the height of the industrial revolution, his novel served as a warning that advances would set in motion threatening and dangerous effects to society and the world. He knew then that factories would fuel the fortunes of capitalists and fan the flames of climate change and global warming. 

Two centuries later, corporate Australia is on notice following a ramp up in Senate inquires and crackdowns on the greenwashing activities of some of the biggest brands in the country.  

But as they, and dear Kermit, would explain, it’s not easy being green.  

Green is the new black 

In the 20 years since the United Nations coined the term ESG, there has been a raft of legislation for businesses to navigate, mandatory reporting disclosures, misinterpreted certification processes and impending regulatory changes in the ESG space. And the regulators are watching.  
For brands that have been found to be misleading the public, the task ahead is rebuilding trust with their stakeholders, including customers, communities, suppliers, and employees.   
For every business in the news for the wrong reasons, there are several more avoiding sharing their ESG and sustainability efforts for fear of reputational fall out and losing customers and revenue.  

However, the risk of inaction or ‘green-hushing’ is also just as costly with societal values evolving to the point where we are actively seeking out brands to buy from, do business with, or work for that can demonstrate their sustainability credentials.  
For these businesses, the communications goal is to bring customers along on the journey, authentically, transparently and above all, accurately.  

It is ESG or Sustainability? 

ESG and sustainability are often interchangeably used as a term. For clarification, sustainability reporting is commonly regarded as the communication efforts of an organisation to convey their green efforts whereas ESG is more limited to the reporting framework for investment purposes and capital markets only.  

Communicating with purpose 

Before your brand can begin to think about promoting your sustainability activities, getting your house in order is the first step. Consider, is your business across the relevant industry regulations and standards? Do you have adequate resources in place to navigate the sustainability space? Have you gone through the required approvals from relevant industry bodies?  

To this end, ASIC provides a number of principles on how to avoid greenwashing when offering or promoting sustainably-related products, including correct labelling and explanations when it comes to sustainability-related terminology. 

Once your products and services are set from a business perspective, your agency is next port of call.  

At IMPACT, we put people first, champion planet preservation and strive for ethical growth.  We want to do our part and use our communications expertise (working alongside sustainability consultants/experts) to support organisations on their green journey. We work with organisations to communicate their sustainability efforts authentically, whilst protecting and enhancing reputation.  

As part of our offering, we conduct a communication audit of your ‘green’ messages, benchmark them against competitors. Content is developed to leverage your initiatives and then critically assess them to ensure the storytelling is authentic, and screen for greenwashing.  

We also practice what we preach, which is why we’re working with our own ESG lead and partner to conduct our business more sustainably. 

As the landscape continues to progress, it’s important for organisations to keep up to date with the latest news and developments and work with industry partners and experts to ensure brands are well placed to adapt and communicate accordingly.  

We’ll continue to explore this environment and share with you our thoughts of communicating sustainability efforts responsibly, so watch this space.  

Do you need support communicating your sustainability efforts to your customers? To discuss opportunities, contact Nicole Webb at 





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