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7 rules for engaging with a sustainability auditor

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Sustainability auditors and rating providers are in high demand. Their guidance and services can be hugely beneficial to companies that are seeking to display their involvement with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) initiatives, enhance their reputation and attract new clients. Sustainability audits also support with benchmarking key sustainability initiatives and identifying gaps for improvement, which can further strengthen your position in all aspects of ethics and sustainability. 

In this blog, we outline 7 key rules to help engaging with a sustainability auditor: 

  1. Establish the right governance framework 

Implementing a dedicated team with the correct skills and understanding of the audit’s requirements is key. Establishing a Sustainability committee comprising key groups, such as Finance, Operations, Risk & Compliance and Marketing will facilitate control across your sustainability metrics. In parallel, a CSO with trusted expertise will enhance credibility and offer tailored oversight and guidance to ensure an effective submission.  

  1. Materiality analysis and gap assessment 

Evaluate how the various aspects of sustainability are truly relevant for your business, so that you can put your focus on what matters most. This includes areas where you can have the greatest positive impact, as well as areas where you could have the greatest risk. Where possible, perform a gap analysis of previous companies’ efforts with sustainability audits or ratings providers. Ask for feedback and determine what was lacking in the previous attempt. If this is your first time, consult the survey or audit in depth before you begin to fully understand the ask, identify exactly what materials you will need to gather and where any gaps may lie.  

  1. Action log and project management of activities  

Create an action log for all required tasks. This will help to track activities through each stage of the survey, from liaising with different business lines and collecting internal documents up to attaching files for submission.  

  1. Establish stream leads  

It is helpful to establish stream leads relating to the categories you are going to focus on. For example, the environment lead could focus on collecting data relating to carbon emissions or waste management. These stream leads should be responsible for overseeing that category’s efforts, breaking down tasks and delegating to other team members involved.  

  1. Allocate enough time to gather collateral and establish a storage management system 

Gathering materials across each department or business line can be hugely time consuming. Think about setting up a centralised storage space to help keep track of identified documents. Attention to detail is key here – it is important to ensure the most relevant documents are attached for each ask so that you are providing an accurate depiction of your sustainability efforts, and all your efforts get correctly accounted for.  

  1. Commitments and affiliations  

Certifications and accreditations will help to demonstrate your company’s commitment to the environment and other ethical or social causes, as well as help to solidify your position as an inclusive employer. It is important to cite any relevant certifications or affiliations, such as commitment to the SBTi (Science Based Target Initiatives), CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) disclosure or any ISO certifications.  

  1. Don’t stop at submission. 

Whilst it can be motivating to accomplish key sustainability achievements in the lead up to the survey, follow-through will be key. It might be natural to lose momentum following the submission, but the true benefit will be a consistent commitment to sustainability. Just because the survey is closed, it does not mean your progress should stop. 

How can DC help?  

Delta Capita offers ESG Strategy and Regulatory consulting services that provide insight, capacity and expertise to help companies maintain their commitment to global sustainability objectives and comply with regulatory requirements. 
To find out more about Delta Capita’s ESG consulting services, contact us today. 

This article was co-authored by Clemmie Elcock, Senior Consultant and Amelia Wood, Consultant.