It’s been a tough run for marketers, with financial and big tech execs proclaiming 2023 as the year of efficiency. And it’s difficult to prioritize environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives along with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives while figuring out how to do more with less.
And yet, there’s a calculus that boards and C-suites must make. We’re long past the days of ESG and DEI initiatives being nice-to-haves. Now, these commitments have a critical impact on an organization’s brand and business strategy as well as long-term growth.
As part of the Informa Tech Trust in Marketing Index survey, we asked B2B technology buying decision makers how messaging about ESG and DEI efforts affect their perception of brands competing for their business.
While it might not be the final reason they do a deal with your brand, potential partners notice when you talk about your DEI and ESG endeavors. And it can help sway their trust in your business.
Seventy percent of survey respondents said content about a brand’s DEI or ESG efforts was likely to improve or slightly improve their trust in a brand – the most selected option among the potential trust-building actions we listed.
Also, 37% of these respondents said knowing a brand supports ESG and DEI efforts would make them more willing to share their data when requested.
Making your efforts known
Leaning into the tailwinds of ESG presents equal opportunities for risk and reward to enhance your brand reputation. Look at the divisive reaction over Apple’s “Mother Nature” video, which overshadowed its latest iPhone launch. Some praised the environmental status report as creative and cutting-edge. To others, it was just … cringe.
For an alternative blueprint on how to gain trust around your ESG efforts, let’s look at The Lego Group. Recently, the company made news by announcing that after eight years of testing a recyclable plastic for its colorful bricks, it discovered this initiative would eventually cause more carbon emissions than its current raw materials. The key takeaway for marketers is how Lego’s CEO owned up to it, educated the market on the situation and remained steadfast in the company’s commitment to more feasible alternatives.
What both these examples show (even Apple’s, with its mixed reactions) is that marketers shouldn’t be afraid to have conversations highlighting how their organization’s ESG and DEI strategies are igniting real change, as it’s not only the right thing to do, but it can help grow your business in the process. Conversely, brands that aren’t talking about their progress and goals in the space might be losing business, as they’re overlooking an opportunity to differentiate themselves.
How to incorporate ESG and DEI initiatives into your marketing messaging
Here are three ways highlighting ESG and DEI initiatives can create value in your marketing programs:
Your workforce is getting more diverse
ESG initiatives have been linked to substantial increases in more engaged, satisfied employees while also attracting top talent who place greater importance on aligning their personal values with their employers’ values. Focus content on how you create a workplace that reflects society and where everyone feels seen, heard and supported. Your employees are your greatest brand champions, and highlighting their successes will inject a boost of credibility when delivering your organization’s messages to the market.
Your partners and vendors are getting more diverse, too
Part of your long-term business strategy should be looking across your ecosystem and examining if you could be working with other vendors and partners that have similar ESG goals. When re-evaluating contracts, review your vendors’ ESG initiatives and DEI policies and practices to ensure they’re aligned with yours.
Creating these partnerships is ideal, but make sure you’re highlighting them, too. Marketers can do this by collaborating with partners on a range of content creation, co-marketing, or sponsorship opportunities.
Your customers are part of an increasingly diverse buying committee
Being a good corporate citizen isn’t just a catchphrase. Your company and your buyers exist across various countries, regions and communities where stewardship is a strategic imperative.
Ensure your brand messaging underscores your company’s pledge to more sustainable products or solutions, commitment to human rights and positive labor relations, ethical and sustainable supply chain operations and adherence to data security and privacy.
The significance of advancing your ESG and DEI efforts to positively impact people and the planet defines your purpose and fortifies your brand promise. And purpose and profits aren’t just linked – they’re forged in an unbreakable chain. This bond powerfully influences both your top-line aspirations and bottom-line realities, redefining how the world sees and works with your brand.