‘True Materiality’ is here to stay: boosting financial growth with holistic ESG integration

Explore the untapped potential of ESG integration as we challenge traditional economic models and financial analyses with ‘true materiality.’ Learn more about what true materiality entails and how your organization can strategically benefit from adopting this moving forward.

Currently, economic models and financial analyses do not incorporate ESG in any core financial driver for companies. ESG activities conducted by companies as risk management and opportunity aspirations have no bearing on the core financial growth strategy or the key cost drivers for any company analyzed.

ESG analysis today

In general, ESG analysis focuses on understanding how Company X manages sector-specific risks and opportunities, with risk management taking priority. Sector risks are assigned based on subjective understanding and interpretation of potential ESG risks that may have a significant or limited potential impact on the company’s financial performance and/or valuation.

Most of the ESG data we have access to today is self-published by companies. It’s only very seldom verified by a 3rd party and do not – in 99% of the cases – include any alternative datasets that could be remotely interesting for an investor. It is plain-vanilla ESG data, minus the vanilla.

The core question investors are really interested in is not answered. What is the center of gravity for sustainable business? Where does it really make a difference for a company, move mountains, break chains, disrupt and evolve capacities?

Well, to find this center of gravity you will need some very daring people who question the conformity of the current financial thinking as well as the current sustainability thinking, which by the way is dominated by the Anglo-Saxon world view.

The disconnect between financial assessments and sustainability

Financial metrics are not assigned in terms of percentage of revenue affected by a “bad” or non-existent Human Rights policy or lack of Scope 3 emissions. Limited information is available on product and/or service levels in terms of potential revenue streams aligned with the EU taxonomy. Exact numbers or appreciation of financial impact, both positive and negative are currently not available, and often estimates are used in many cases as a proxy for investment decisions.

A company is assigned a certain risk and opportunity profile, which is translated into an alphabetic or a numerical rating. Depending on the analytical model used by an asset manager (passive, active, bottom up, thematic, quantitative, etc.) ratings and/or underlying ESG data can be trenched, skewed, or extracted and transformed (with a large portion of estimates) into the portfolio management decision-making process.

All investment decisions are forward-looking, based on expectations that Company X will reach or exceed certain targets, and, in that process, the investor will gain certain profit relative to the starting point of the investment. In principle, investors using current ESG datasets are making forward-looking investment decisions based on ESG datasets covering past ESG (mostly risk) management performance of the company.

Certain ESG data relating to information on products and services are limited, and, when available, they are often unconnected to the company’s overall growth strategy for specific client, market or geography segments. In other words, there is no connection between what, where and how a company plans to grow and how ESG measures deployed by the company will enable, hinder or prevent further growth.

A holistic approach to ESG integration

In the world of ESG these are so-called “ESG-unknowns” and addressing these questions should lead to further integration of ESG into the core of any company’s business and core of financial analysis. “Sustainable” companies and financial institutions selling ESG funds need to be able to answer questions on the financial relevance of ESG as they pertain to:

  • Product and service development
  • Market and client segments
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Pricing and sales strategy
  • Volume segments of products and/or services provided by a company
  • Biggest shareholders of the company
  • Balance sheet
  • Climate risk accounting (incorporated in overall financial accounting, not only related to companies’ own emissions, but also their products and services and core business offerings of the company)

At Rimm, we believe in what we call “true materiality,” which refers to the need to see what ESG factors can disrupt a company’s business model and how the company is managing these ESG externalities. This assessment will vary by industry and country.

The starting point of this analysis is to examine the key cost drivers in the business, including both the cost of the goods sold and operating expenses. Once these cost drivers are identified, each one needs to be tagged to a set of ESG KPIs that would impact that cost. After isolating the ESG KPIs by cost category, (what we call true materiality), we need to rate the company’s performance for each ESG KPI to determine both an absolute rating and a rating within each cost category. The rating can be developed through a combination of absolute scoring, relative scoring based on industry benchmarking or “alternative” data that provides a third-party view on the company’s ESG performance for a certain KPI.

We have to stress that true materiality is not an endgame. It is an analytical framework that allows companies and investors – and indeed all stakeholders – to engage and dig deeper between the ESG and financial connections that are so crucial to all companies. The reality is that public disclosure, even with the big push towards ESG reporting, does not give us enough to really get to the bottom of “true materiality”. It is only a point of departure to more honest discussions within companies and with their stakeholders.

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Sasja Beslik
Senior Advisor, Data Analytics

With 20 years of experience in advising multinational companies, Sasja Beslik is an expert in data analytics and creating strategies for integrating ESG into asset management. He also currently sits on Rimm’s esteemed advisory board.

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Leveraging Sustainability for Talent Attraction and Retention: Key Insights from Our Online Webinar

Discover the key insights from our event, as experts delve into the power of sustainability in shaping the new generation workforce. Gain practical tips on leveraging employee engagement for positive environmental and social impact through disclosure, reporting and analytics.

As the world continues to evolve, so do the values and aspirations of the new generation workforce. Millennials and Gen Z individuals are increasingly driven by a passion for sustainability and a desire to work for organizations that align with their ethical beliefs. This highlights the importance around the ‘S’ factors in ESG and the need to ensure proper measurement and management of organizations’ data around these factors.

Recognizing the profound implications of this trend on businesses, Rimm recently hosted an enriching online webinar titled “Sustainability: Boosting Talent Attraction and Retention in the New Generation.” We had the pleasure of having Ravi Chidambaram (Founder & CEO, Rimm), Angie Wakefield (Learning and Development Lead, Nextwave), Vi Nguyen (Principal Strategist – Sustainable Finance, Forum for the Future) and Dr. Kim Schumacher (Associate Professor of ESG and Sustainable Finance, Kyushu University) on our panel, moderated by Rina Neoh (Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Ficus Capital).

Our diverse panel of sustainability experts and practitioners came together to explore how organizations can harness sustainable practices to attract and retain top talent while fostering a positive impact on the environment and society.

Let’s delve into the key takeaways from this thought-provoking discussion and explore the strategies that businesses can employ to thrive in this new era!

Empowering Employee Engagement for Sustainable Impact

There are greater expectations placed on managers and businesses from the newer generations’ perceptions around work-life balance and culture change. The digital ability to work and work longer hours has allowed people to work longer or be more entrepreneurial and find something they enjoy doing and have higher expectations, Angie shares. For many recruiters, this means they “have to be showing the purpose and mission of your business back to the people who are coming through the door” and “through the recruitment process… finding people who are mission-aligned.”

Within the ESG and sustainability space, there is a strong, growing demand for skills and talent. This, however, comes with some challenges for recruiters as sometimes they may take “the quick route… without there being a lot sufficient material competence behind [the applicants’ credentials],” adds Kim. He highlights the importance of employers formulating what they need materially, as well as weighing training and a proper mix of expertise, as “greenwashing is the next big thing that regulators are looking at.”

Furthermore, within the industry, Vi highlights the greater importance and pressure around the “need to walk the talk,” and shares from experience that “people come to work for us with the expectation that our culture reflects the message that we are sending out there to the market… [which] has to be reflected in the hiring process all the way to internally… that has to be fair and equitable.” She also points out the opportunity to lead by example and the importance of inclusive team dynamics and employee engagement so that “every employee feels valid, safe to express their views and to do their work.”

Challenges in Navigating Sustainability Engagement

With regard to employee engagement, “the biggest challenge is scaling a company culture and ensuring that strong culture is felt,” says Angie. She highlights that there is a responsibility from both employers and employees to show the culture in their day-to-day, allow room for career development, and for there to be an engaging culture that allows for open and honest communication to better facilitate empathy and understanding in the workspace.

Ravi adds that “a lot more data and analytics could be added to this particular field and delivered to clients.” Ravi and Kim highlight the importance of materiality in understanding an organization’s sustainability performance, as well as highlights the strengths and weaknesses to gain clarity on how to strategize more effectively moving forward. For SMEs constrained by resources, there is still a necessity, global expectation and regional regulations for better management of sustainability and ESG performance. While “there is a global push for more sustainability and ESG regulation,” says Kim, if aligning with sustainability frameworks seems too resource-intensive, SMEs can conduct a materiality analysis that can help to reveal gaps and areas for improvement. “If you identify these gaps, then the next step would be to… go out and seek external ways of capacity-building, getting additional resources… It’s never too late to do a materiality analysis,” says Kim.

Measuring and Evaluating Progress: The Path to Success

“A big part of purpose is also how your company is externally making a difference, and those are things we can track better. There’s more client engagement around the S issues, particularly at larger companies,” shares Ravi.

At Rimm, we offer a very strong materiality map to map out material factors to analyze, benchmark and report on for all companies. Often in service-driven companies, the S issue becomes prominent, and these issues can be highlighted in materiality maps and tracked and benchmarked quite carefully through our assessments. We collect a lot of data on key ‘S’ metrics, including in terms of employer performance, salaries, diversity, benefits and workplace culture. We then benchmark this against our database and provide a performance analysis. As part of the process, we also tap into alternative data sources, such as Glassdoor ratings, to reinforce the overall perception of companies’ records as employers.

From this analytical framework, “companies can see how important the employer performance issue is to their industry, how that starts to affect their business and operations, and how they can benchmark themselves and set targets and objectives,” says Ravi.

In a world where sustainability has become a critical factor in talent attraction and retention, organizations must embrace these changing dynamics to thrive in the new generation workforce. Our online webinar, “Sustainability: Boosting Talent Attraction and Retention in the New Generation,” offered a wealth of insights and best practices to help organizations leverage employee engagement as a powerful sustainability strategy. By empowering their workforce, navigating regional nuances, and measuring progress, businesses can align with the values of the new generation and create a positive impact on both their people and the planet.

Interested to learn more about sustainability and leveraging employee engagement through disclosure, reporting and analytics in attracting and retaining talent?

Watch our full webinar recording to understand how you can make a positive environmental and social impact.

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Solving the Puzzle of Sustainability Disclosure: a guide to the new ISSB standards for SMEs

The new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) standards help solve the problem of global reporting fragmentation, enabling clearer, more consistent reporting for SMEs. Learn how the standards can help your firm boost credibility and efficiency in your sustainability reporting.

As a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), staying informed about the latest standards and frameworks that can impact your business is essential. This can be an onerous task given the fragmented jigsaw of global standards that have grown up around sustainability. The new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) framework, announced in June 2023, is a major step forward as it aims to simplify reporting by setting a baseline for all companies.

Companies and their investors don’t currently have a common language for communicating about sustainability. But the ISSB’s first set of standards – IFRS S1 and S2 – aim to change all that by creating a common framework for all disclosures. This should bolster trust and confidence in sustainability-related information to drive investment and resourcing decisions. 

Let’s break down the new ISSB standards to understand how they can benefit your SME.

What is the ISSB?

The ISSB is an international organization dedicated to developing and promoting globally accepted standards. The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation set up the board in 2021 to enhance transparency, credibility, and comparability of sustainability reporting by providing a comprehensive global baseline of disclosures.

The board’s creation helps consolidate and simplify the fragmented array of sustainability standards that has grown up over the last few decades. The Value Reporting Foundation (VRF) and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) have consolidated into the IFRS Foundation. And the ISSB builds on and consolidates the work of other investor-focused reporting initiatives, including:

  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards
  • Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations
  • Integrated Reporting Framework
  • Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) framework.

ISSB will also be incorporated into the CDP global environmental disclosure platform.

The Global Reporting Initiative – another popular sustainability framework – has said it will be distinct but complementary to the ISSB, and the two frameworks are aligning their work programs. The GRI says its standard will ensure transparency on organizations’ impacts on people and planet, while the ISSB supports efficient and resilient capital markets. Together these two standards can provide a complete picture on sustainability impacts and performance, says the GRI.

Will ISSB standards be mandatory for SMEs?

Local regulators decide whether to mandate climate disclosures and to what extent their rules align with ISSB. Currently, the ISSB standards are not compulsory in most jurisdictions. But they could start aligning with global regulatory requirements as local rules evolve. 

The UK, for example, became the first country to mandate companies to make climate-related disclosures in 2022. These disclosures are currently based on TCFD, but there are plans to update them to reference the ISSB standards.

The UK rules currently only apply to large companies. However, the government plans to make climate disclosures mandatory ‘across the economy’, implying smaller firms will be included, by 2025. 

ISSB standards – the key features

The new standards apply to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2024.

The rules are designed to be user-friendly and easy to understand, with practical guidance and examples to simplify implementation.

The standards are flexible, accounting for the varying legal, cultural, and economic environments in which businesses operate. This helps organizations comply with minimal burden or disruption to operations.

The standards are scalable, recognizing the diversity of organizations and different levels of readiness. This allows businesses to adopt them in a phased manner. SMEs can prioritize the implementation of specific standards based on their needs and resources.

The ISP framework takes an integrated approach, going beyond financial information to include non-financial factors such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG). 

Main requirements

The disclosures organizations provide for IFRS S1 (General requirements for sustainability-related financial disclosure) must be useful to financial report users in making decisions about providing resources to the entity. It requires entities to disclose information about risks and opportunities that could reasonably affect their prospects, including the entity’s cashflows, and access to finance or cost of capital over the short, medium or long term.

S1 requires entities to disclose information about their sustainability-related risks and opportunities – in particular: 

  • Governance processes, controls and procedures the entity uses to monitor, manage and oversee sustainability-related risks and opportunities
  • Strategy for managing risks and opportunities
  • Processes for identifying, assessing, prioritizing and monitoring them
  • The entity’s performance around sustainability-related risks and opportunities, including progress towards any targets the entity has set or is required to meet by law or regulation.

IFRS S2 (Climate-related disclosures) has the same key disclosure requirements as for S1 listed above, but for specific climate-related risks and opportunities rather than those relating to general sustainability. 

Disclosed targets should align with the latest international agreements on climate change – such as the Paris Agreement – and local plans, known as nationally determined contributions.

Where next?

Having launched its general sustainability and climate standards, the ISSB is also reportedly now exploring whether to extend its remit to cover areas such as biodiversity, ecosystems, human capital, and human rights.

The benefits for SMEs aligning with ISSB standards

SMEs have faced difficulties in navigating the complex alphabet soup of ESG regulations. But ISSB provides them with a solid foundation for improving financial reporting, enhancing business efficiency, and facilitating international growth.

The ISSB standards can help SMEs improve their reporting processes, ensuring consistent, accurate and reliable information. This transparency enhances credibility and helps SMEs attract potential investors and financing.

Aligning with the ISSB standards helps SMEs better manage risks by identifying how sustainability and climate issues may affect their prospects. 

It can help SMEs streamline their internal processes, making them more efficient and effective with improved decision-making, cost reduction, and operational excellence.

Adhering to internationally recognized standards also positions SMEs for global expansion. It enables SMEs to meet the expectations of international stakeholders, facilitates cross-border transactions, and simplifies compliance with regulatory requirements in foreign markets.

Keeping pace with the latest standards and frameworks is crucial for SMEs aiming to thrive in an increasingly competitive global market. By adopting the standards, SMEs can strengthen their credibility, attract investors, and unlock new opportunities for success. 

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Browse our solutions catalog or book a free demo today!

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Leveraging AI for a Sustainable Future: Revolutionizing ESG Data Collection, Analytics, and Reporting

AI for Sustainability: Revolutionizing ESG Data Collection, Analytics and Reporting

AI is revolutionizing ESG data collection, quality checks, analytics and report generation. Here’s how to unlock the power of technology for a sustainable future with Rimm solutions.


As businesses strive towards greater environmental and social responsibility, artificial intelligence (AI) has become crucial for collecting and analyzing ESG data efficiently, says Faddy Ardian, Chief Data Scientist at Rimm Sustainability.

Here we look at how AI is transforming sustainability data practices and gain insights from Faddy on how AI is impacting ESG and sustainability performance reporting.

AI-enabled data collection

Traditionally, gathering, analyzing and verifying environmental, social and governance (ESG) data has been a labor-intensive and time-consuming process, often relying on manual surveys and reports. AI has revolutionized this landscape by automating data collection from sources such as social media feeds, news articles and financial records.

Using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms, AI can rapidly analyze vast amounts of unstructured data and extract relevant insights. This efficiency saves time and improves the accuracy and reliability of ESG data.

‘Financial data is easy to gather and extract because it is structured,’ says Faddy. ‘But ESG information is often much less structured, there are fewer exact and consistent standards, so it is harder to extract. But AI can help.

‘It enables organizations to accurately measure and report their sustainability performance, and make informed decisions that promote a sustainable future. As the demand for transparent and responsible business practices grows, embracing AI becomes imperative for companies aiming to have a positive societal and environmental impact.’

Increasing transparency and accountability

Companies face increasing pressure from stakeholders – including investors, customers and regulators – to provide transparent and accurate ESG reporting. AI enables them to streamline data collection, validation, and reporting processes, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies.

Through AI-powered platforms, companies can automate their generation of comprehensive ESG reports, ensuring compliance with reporting standards and enhancing transparency. This automation saves time and resources and supports a consistent and reliable sustainability performance assessment.

Enhanced analytics and reporting

AI-powered analytics tools enable companies to delve deep into their ESG data, identifying patterns, trends, and correlations they might otherwise not notice. Machine learning algorithms can identify complex relationships between ESG factors and help businesses understand the impact of their sustainability initiatives. This data-driven approach empowers organizations to make informed decisions, set ambitious targets, and develop effective strategies for addressing ESG challenges.

Faddy says an example is that AI can help you identify risk patterns, such as around greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, across different levels of your supply chain. This saves a huge amount of time compared to mapping risks without AI.

It can also help you benchmark and verify you are using the right documents to evidence your reporting by checking if it aligns with what peers in your sector and region are using.

‘AI can help confirm your measurements are accurate through outlier checks,’ says Faddy. ‘For example, if you’re an oil company, AI can tell you what your range of GHG emissions measurements should be. If yours is outside that range, it could be an error.’

AI can also help you with materiality. ‘Using natural language processing (NLP), we can help you identify which topics you need to track according to your sector,’ he says. ‘For example, if you’re in the software industry, data privacy is a key material sustainability factor. But if you are in the food industry, health-related issues may be more important.’

And one more thing – AI can help make your reports more presentable and written in good English.

Driving innovation and efficiency

AI’s potential extends beyond data collection, reporting and analysis. By harnessing these technologies, companies can drive innovation and develop sustainable solutions in areas such as, energy consumption, reducing waste, and improving supply chain efficiency.

For example, AI-powered algorithms can identify opportunities for renewable energy integration; enhance resource allocation; and minimize environmental impact.

Faddy says an example of how AI can help companies optimize their energy use is by calculating which floors in a building need electricity automatically turned off and when.

You can also then use AI to interpret the results and find ways to improve, for example, on how to improve your employment policies, by finding best practice case studies and other companies.

How Rimm can help

Artificial intelligence has become a game-changer in sustainability data collection and analytics. At Rimm, we empower companies to address ESG challenges effectively by automating data collection, improving transparency, enhancing analytics and reporting capabilities, and driving innovation.

To learn more about Rimm’s AI-integrated solutions, browse our catalog or book a free demo today!

Dr Faddy Ardian

Dr Faddy Ardian
Chief Data Scientist

Dr Faddy Ardian manages Rimm’s large and proprietary database, ensuring that data is kept up to date for all clients and employees for easy analysis of data. This wide database aims to assist companies in making sustainability decisions by driving understanding through data.

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Mixing Materiality, Reporting and Strategy: How to Ace Sustainability

Discover how to combine sustainability reporting compliance and ESG data analytics with a proactive, strategic approach to build transparency and sustainable success!

As regulatory scrutiny and stakeholder demands around sustainability grow, organizations worldwide need to ace their compliance with reporting rules and standards. But they also have an opportunity to combine materiality mapping, reporting, data analytics and strategy to smash their long-term goals and build a more sustainable business.

By identifying and disclosing performance on the most material topics as part of a strategic approach, organizations can not only meet regulatory requirements, but also enhance their reputation, gain insight with relevant data analytics to drive sustainable business practices and gain a competitive edge.

Here we explore why and how to take a strategic approach in identifying material topics that align with sustainability reporting regulations, address stakeholder expectations and incorporate double-materiality to drive long-term performance.

The global backdrop

The worldwide focus on sustainability reporting continues to intensify. Reporting rates are expected to grow as new regulation on non-financial reporting is introduced, according to 2022 research by KPMG. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the most common standard used globally, though some regions prefer Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) or local stock exchange guidelines. The number of organizations reporting climate-related risks is also rising dramatically, for example those reporting against the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) doubled, said KPMG.

In response, organizations should build a strategic approach to reporting and operating sustainably with a materiality assessment and stakeholder engagement at its core.

Engage with stakeholders

A 2022 report from McKinsey highlights that the growth in sustainability reporting rules and standards has not been driven by regulators, but by stakeholder expectations. The ‘social licence’ organizations gain by meeting these stakeholder needs will be critical to their future success, it says.

It is therefore essential that your business prioritizes asking your stakeholders – such as investors, customers, employees, suppliers and wider communities – for their input on material topics. This engagement helps ensure your reporting addresses their concerns and priorities, in line with regulatory reporting expectations and the wider need for social licence.

Done correctly, this engagement should also demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity and inform your business strategy too.

Use comprehensive materiality assessments

Robust materiality assessments are a key part of this stakeholder engagement and will form the cornerstone of compliance with sustainability regulations. These assessments evaluate the significance of sustainability topics based on their potential impacts and stakeholder interests. Follow these steps for an effective assessment:

  1. Identify potential topics: develop a comprehensive list of sustainability topics relevant to your industry and organization, considering the regulatory requirements and stakeholder interests.
  2. Assess impacts: evaluate the potential economic, environmental and social impacts associated with each topic. Consider operational risks, regulatory compliance, financial and reputational consequences. Use double materiality by considering not just climate-related impacts on your organization, but also the impacts of your organization on the climate as they relate to ESG.
  3. Evaluate stakeholder significance: Gauge each stakeholder group’s level of interest and influence around each sustainability topic. This helps you prioritize issues for reporting.
  4. Prioritize topics: Based on the assessment, prioritize the topics that are most relevant and impactful to your stakeholders, and that have substantial impacts on your organization. These topics will form the foundation of your reporting strategy, and ensure compliance with reporting regulations.

Align with reporting frameworks

To ensure compliance and comparability, align your material topics with reporting frameworks recommended or mandated by the regulators. These frameworks provide standardized guidelines, reporting indicators and disclosure requirements for specific sustainability topics. By adopting recognized frameworks – such as GRI, SASB and TCFD – you can show your commitment to transparent and standardized reporting, increasing the credibility of your sustainability efforts.

Review and update

Sustainability reporting regulations evolve continuously, as do stakeholder expectations. To maintain compliance, review and update your material topics on a regular basis. Stay informed about regulatory developments, engage with stakeholders frequently, monitor emerging trends, and adjust your reporting strategy accordingly. This iterative process will help you stay ahead of evolving requirements; maintain credibility with regulators, investors and other stakeholders; and hone your strategy.

Compliance with sustainability reporting regulations is no longer a choice but a necessity for companies seeking to build trust, foster transparency and drive sustainable growth.

But combining compliance with a proactive and strategic approach to sustainability reporting and data analytics brings many more opportunities. It safeguards your organization’s reputation, aligns strategy with stakeholder needs, sharpens competitive edge and contributes to a more responsible business. It could be the grand slam you need to build a more successful and sustainable organization long-term.

Want to find out the most material topics for your organization?

Generate your own materiality map for free with myCSO.

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Scope 4 Emissions: The Next Form Of Greenwashing?

Uncover the truth behind “avoided emissions” claims and why companies’ Scope 4 methodologies demand scrutiny. Ravi Chidambaram shares his expert analysis – read about the importance of transparent standards in evaluating carbon reduction strategies.

Are scope 4 emissions a groundbreaking solution or just another greenwashing tactic? The new, “hot” strategy amongst MNCs, particularly in Japan, for carbon reduction is “avoided emissions,” also known as scope 4. Coined by the World Resources Institute, scope 4 emissions encompasses reductions that “occur outside a product’s life cycle or value chain but as a result of the use of that product.”

Avoided emissions are achieved when a company makes a new product, which means normally replacing an older generation product, that carries lower emissions over its lifecycle – from manufacturing to end of life recycling. The scope 4 emissions savings are then offset against the company’s scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions to present a more complete picture of its carbon footprint.

It sounds in principle like a great idea and is indeed at the heart of new reporting protocols, such TCFD, that want companies to map out and quantify their carbon transition plans. However, as is the case with most things in the sustainability world, things are never as straightforward as they seem.

At Rimm Sustainability, we have been doing more research on Scope 4 and believe that many avoided emissions claims deserve closer scrutiny. Our director, Kim Schumacher, a world authority on the subject of greenwashing, has also voiced his doubts on the methodologies used by companies to claim avoided emissions, which he recently shared in a Financial Times article.

The gist of the problem with Scope 4 methodologies can be summarized as follows:

  • Companies often do not conduct a full lifecycle product analysis and may omit some aspects, such as raw materials sourcing or end-of-life recycling, making their claims incomplete
  • Many claims are often made on a comparative basis, i.e. their new product is superior to those of competitors in the market or the company’s own older models, but the basis for comparison for which products were compared are often not disclosed
  • Even if a company’s new product is demonstrably lower in emissions, it does not mean that all its customers will switch from the old product to the new one, meaning the overall market impact may be exaggerated based on optimistic new product sales forecasts

It would therefore be wise of all interested stakeholders, from consumers to regulators to investors, to be wary of scope 4 claims made by companies. As ever with sustainability, a set of published transparent and standard methodologies – akin to an audited accounting report – will be needed before scope 4 claims can be taken seriously.

Learn more about Rimm’s sustainability and ESG solutions – browse our solutions catalog or book a free demo today!

Ravi Chidambaram
CEO – Founder

A strong believer in ethical, purpose-driven, and environmental-focused principles, Ravi Chidambaram has brought much value to the community through his knowledge and expertise. He shares his insight as a Professor of Sustainability at Yale-NUS and as a global commentator on sustainability issues. Now a serial entrepreneur, he is currently working on his 4th start up. It was there where he realized the need for sustainability that is both accessible and actionable, resulting in the creation of Rimm.

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✅ Gauge your company’s sustainability performance

✅ View your sustainability performance all from one dashboard

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Empowering SMEs on their Net Zero Journey: the Importance of Sustainability in Brand Building

By integrating sustainability into their brand and culture from day one, SMEs can gain a competitive advantage, drive growth, improve performance, and attract clients who share their values. Dr Leeya Hendricks, Chief Marketing Officer at Rimm Sustainability, shares insights on how to do it.

Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword. It has become a critical factor for businesses of all sizes, including SMEs, in driving long-term success and positive impacts on the planet.

In today’s competitive business landscape, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have a great opportunity to integrate sustainability into their brand-building strategies. This can help them build significant competitive advantage while also contributing to global efforts on issues such as climate change.

Embracing the journey towards net-zero emissions is an excellent place to start for SMEs looking to bake sustainability into their identity and DNA. Achieving net zero emissions means balancing the greenhouse gases they emit with the amount they remove from the atmosphere.

But embedding other issues in the sustainability-related areas of environment, social and governance will also help them position for success. Customers are increasingly seeking brands that align with their values and prioritize sustainability. If the firm can demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainability, it will become a magnet for customers who want to make ethical purchasing decisions.

By communicating their sustainability initiatives clearly and reporting progress transparently, SMEs can attract new clients who share the same values and build a loyal customer base.

Building sustainability into culture

For SMEs, sustainability should be more than just a standalone initiative. They should embed it in their brand, culture, values, and operations.

By making sustainability a core principle, SMEs can demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. This includes integrating sustainable practices into their supply chain, adopting energy-efficient technologies, minimizing waste generation, and supporting ethical sourcing. Doing so doesn’t just reduce their environmental footprint, it inspires and engages their employees, customers, and stakeholders.

Competitive advantage and growth

Increasingly, consumers seek products and services from companies that align with their values, including environmental consciousness.

By demonstrating commitment to sustainability from start-up, SMEs can gain a competitive advantage by attracting a growing customer base that prioritizes ethical and eco-friendly choices. Moreover, most research shows sustainability-driven innovation can also create value by generating market opportunities, improving operational efficiency, saving costs and attracting clients.

Sustainability goes beyond environmental considerations. It encompasses social and governance aspects too. SMEs that prioritize these aspects enhance their overall performance by, for example, fostering a positive company culture, ensuring fair labor practices, promoting diversity and inclusion, and practicing transparent governance.

These factors contribute to a positive brand image and attract prospective clients who value responsible business practices. SMEs can then use sustainability to stand out in a crowded marketplace and forge long-term partnerships with like-minded clients.

Enabling the net zero journey

To embark on the net zero journey, SMEs need to set clear goals, establish a roadmap, and track their progress. This includes conducting a comprehensive assessment of their carbon footprint, identifying emission sources, and implementing measures to reduce and offset their emissions. Collaboration with sustainability experts, leveraging technology solutions, and engaging employees and stakeholders are essential for achieving net zero targets.

Sustainability and brand building are intertwined for SMEs on their journey to net zero. Integrating sustainability into culture boosts competitive advantage, growth, and performance; and attracts clients with shared values. Embracing sustainability and communicating it effectively will also help position the company as a leader in its industry, driving success while contributing to a more sustainable future.

It’s an opportunity to impact the planet positively, while ensuring long-term success and resilience for the company. With the right commitment, strategy, and tools, SMEs can lead the way towards a sustainable and prosperous future.

How Rimm can help

Companies can use technology to mitigate sustainability risks and optimize their environmental and financial performance. Rimm offers automated ESG reporting services and analytics tools that help organizations improve their corporate strategy, risk management and sustainability performance.

Learn more about Rimm’s sustainability and ESG solutions – browse our solutions catalogue or book a free demo today!

Dr. Leeya Hendricks
Chief Marketing Officer, Rimm Sustainability

Dr Leeya Hendricks has held executive roles across financial services and technology and has led global portfolios driving impactful brand awareness, demand generation, growth marketing initiatives that will further our mission around sustainability and create impactful value with and for our clients.

Simplify Your Sustainability Performance & Tracking With myCSO

✅ Calculate your scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions instantly

✅ Gauge your company’s sustainability performance

✅ View your sustainability performance all from one dashboard

Benchmark against industry peers

Enter your information below to book a demo with our team today.

ESG Needn’t Cost the Earth: Powerful New Reporting and Management Tools are Affordable for SMEs

Lower-cost digital tools are breaking boundaries for SMEs in sustainability. From automated ESG reporting analytics and carbon calculation, to ESG risk ratings, embracing sustainability is at last achievable and cost-effective.

Do you want your firm to be more sustainable but worry about how much it will cost? Sustainability is becoming essential for businesses as stakeholders and regulators demand greater transparency and accountability on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the cost and complexity of managing and reporting sustainability initiatives have been daunting. Although the global economy has so far avoided recession, it is still a strong risk, says the World Bank. A recession would tighten the financial squeeze on firms already struggling with the impacts of war in Ukraine, persistently high inflation, and higher interest rates.

Such worsening conditions could tempt time and cash-poor SMEs to delay critical sustainability initiatives. But help is at hand.

The perception that sustainability involves expensive, resource-heavy activities out of reach for SMEs is changing with the emergence of affordable digital tools. These tools help you automate ESG reporting, analytics and carbon calculation to reduce costs; and they make ESG risk rating more affordable and achievable too. Let’s explore how these new technologies can support your journey to sustainability and positive impacts.

1) Automated ESG reporting

In the past, ESG reporting has been a time-consuming and resource-intensive process that requires extensive data collection and analysis. However, digital tools have simplified and automated this process, enabling your SME to generate ESG reports efficiently.

By centralizing data collection and using pre-built templates, these tools streamline the reporting process, saving time and effort. For example, you can now easily track and report your environmental impact, social initiatives, and governance practices while reducing the burden on your internal resources.

2) Analytics for performance insights

Digital tools offer affordable analytics that give SMEs powerful insights into their sustainability performance. These insights allow your SME to make informed decisions, prioritize initiatives, and optimize resource allocation effectively. By collecting and analyzing data on factors such as energy consumption, waste generation, carbon emissions, and social impact, you can also set sustainability targets, monitor progress, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate continuous improvement in your sustainability efforts.

3) Carbon calculation tools

Calculating and managing carbon emissions is a crucial aspect of sustainability. Carbon calculation tools enable SMEs to measure and track their carbon footprint accurately. They consider various emission sources, including energy consumption, transportation, and supply chains, to provide a comprehensive assessment.

By understanding your SME’s emissions, you can target reduction strategies and offset programs, leading to cost savings and a positive environmental impact. The good news is digital carbon calculation tools are now affordable to SMEs. So even if the world nudges into recession and you’re feeling the financial squeeze, you can still start or continue your journey to carbon neutrality without it costing a fortune.

4) ESG risk rating and benchmarking

ESG risk rating and benchmarking tools enable SMEs to benchmark their sustainability performance against industry peers and established standards. These tools evaluate a range of factors, from environmental impact to social practices, governance structure, and ethical considerations.

By understanding your firm’s relative position, you can identify improvements and implement strategies to enhance ESG performance. ESG risk rating tools also assist SMEs in understanding potential sustainability-related risks and opportunities, enabling you to make proactive decisions and mitigate risk.

Cost savings and competitive advantage

Embracing affordable digital sustainability tools helps your SME achieve significant cost savings by optimizing energy consumption, reducing waste, and improving resource management. These tools help you achieve long-term financial benefits by identifying opportunities for process optimization and efficiency gains.

But integrating sustainability practices also enhances your reputation, and helps you attract environmentally conscious customers, investors, and partners. By enabling you to demonstrate this commitment to sustainability, digital sustainability tools can ultimately help you gain competitive advantage without straining your resources.

At Rimm with our myCSO product, we believe sustainability should be accessible, actionable and affordable. Let us be your Chief Sustainability Officer and handle all your company’s sustainability needs. Get started today.

Simplify Your Sustainability Performance & Tracking With myCSO

✅ Calculate your scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions instantly

✅ Gauge your company’s sustainability performance

✅ View your sustainability performance all from one dashboard

Benchmark against industry peers

Enter your information below to book a demo with our team today.

World Oceans Day: How SMEs Can Play a Part in Restoring Our Oceans

Today on World Oceans Day, Dr. Lee-Ann Modley shares her expertise on ocean risks and opportunities and the steps SMEs should take to act responsibly and transparently on ocean-related governance.

“A healthy ocean is our most important ally in the fight against climate change.”

World Ocean Day is an international day that takes place annually on June 8. On this day, we aim to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.

As a consequence of human actions that fragment wetland habitats and restrict landward migration, coastal ecosystems progressively lose their ability to adapt to climate-induced changes and provide ecosystem services, including acting as protective barriers.

Projections show that beyond 2100, sea levels will continue to rise for centuries due to continuing deep ocean heat uptake and mass loss of the Geographic Information System (GIS) and Air Insulated substations (AIS) and will remain elevated for thousands of years. Risk related to Sea Level Rise (including erosion, flooding and salinization) is expected to significantly increase by the end of this century along all low-lying coasts in the absence of major additional adaptation efforts.

The Blue Economy gives us the opportunity to produce economic resources related to the oceans, while restoring damaged ecosystems and introducing innovative technology that helps us efficiently and sustainably manage everything the seas can offer us.

What does this mean for SMEs?

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a critical role in restoring ocean health as they represent 70% of employment and 90% of total enterprises in developing countries across all sectors of the Blue Economy. On the basis of research, knowledge and data, ocean industries and SMEs can drive the innovation needed to meet the Green Deal targets and address the grand challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and post-pandemic recovery.

As a step in this direction, SMEs based on, depending on or affecting the ocean should integrate relevant ocean-related risks and opportunities into their corporate strategy, risk management and reporting. In supporting the use of sustainable ocean finance principles and other voluntary mechanisms led by the private sector and multilateral financial institutions in recovery and stimulus efforts, companies can guide, de-risk, incentivise and monitor investments in sustainable ocean activities to increase transparency and ensure reporting consistency.

How can Rimm help?

By leveraging technology, companies can mitigate risks to optimize their environmental and financial performance. Rimm offers automated ESG reporting services and analytics tools that provide insight to help organizations improve their corporate strategy, risk management and sustainability performance.

To learn more about Rimm’s sustainability and ESG solutions, browse our solutions catalogue or book a free demo!

Dr. Lee-Ann Modley

Dr. Lee-Ann Sade Modley is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of Department of Geography, Environment management and Energy in the Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg. She holds a PhD in Environmental management from UJ and has been deeply involved with the water services industry with a particular focus on communities.

Simplify Your Sustainability Performance & Tracking With myCSO

✅ Calculate your scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions instantly

✅ Gauge your company’s sustainability performance

✅ View your sustainability performance all from one dashboard

Benchmark against industry peers

Enter your information below to book a demo with our team today.

Get into the groove with manage+: How to easily track and organize your portfolio’s ESG performance

For asset managers, tracking sustainability performance in portfolio companies is complex. manage+ simplifies the process.

Asset managers are increasingly under pressure from investors, regulators and other stakeholders to disclose information about the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance in their portfolios. In response, many managers need to shape up their processes for tracking and organizing ESG performance in their portfolio companies.

But this requires aligning with a complex mesh of sustainability frameworks and standards. So many asset managers are desperately seeking something that helps them more easily track and manage sustainability reporting. But they can relax – a one-click ESG reporting solution is at hand, and it’s called manage+.

4 ways to improve ESG data management and reporting

manage+ helps asset and fund managers reduce the time, cost and resources they spend on ESG data management and reporting across their portfolios. manage+ provides a bird’s eye view of your portfolio sustainability performance, helping you track it seamlessly from one dashboard; boost communication with your portfolio companies; and generate your portfolio’s aggregated metrics in one click.

Here is more detail about the four key ways manage+ helps asset managers.

1. Comply with global sustainability standards and frameworks

manage+ enables you align with frameworks relevant to your company, such as Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD); Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR); Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA); Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB); and ESG Data Convergence Initiative (EDCI).

Asset managers invite their portfolio companies to input their details and create a myCSO account, including information about their industry and sub-industry. myCSO then automatically generates assessments tailored to material topics for each company.

This aligns companies with the relevant international standards and frameworks to make compliance and reporting hassle-free for them and the asset manager.

2. Auto-populate your ESG data to any LP or regulatory template

manage+ integrates a natural language processing (NLP)-driven tool that enables precise auto-population of the asset manager’s ESG data into any LP or regulatory template. 

This eases reporting; significantly streamlines data collection and reporting processes; and saves time and effort for your fund managers and regulatory compliance teams.

3. Easily manage and analyze your portfolio’s ESG performance in one place

Get a holistic overview of your portfolio’s ESG and sustainability performance across industries on one portfolio dashboard. This includes an overall ESG score that also breaks down to show how well each company performed on various ESG topics and indicators.

Once companies have submitted their assessments, myCSO will auto-generate a performance dashboard and reports analyzing their ESG performance.

This analysis helps you identify and target areas of weakness to work on and improve sustainable impact and value across your portfolio.

4. Benchmark and compare ESG performance and track KPIs

The dashboard shows how well each company performed on common indicators against its peers of the same or similar industry, region and size.

This enables asset managers to analyze and benchmark performance, track key performance indicators and extract insightful data that benefit you and your portfolio.

Want to learn more about manage+?

Book a demo and start managing your portfolio companies’ ESG with ease today.

Simplify Your Sustainability Performance & Tracking With myCSO

✅ Calculate your scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions instantly

✅ Gauge your company’s sustainability performance

✅ View your sustainability performance all from one dashboard

Benchmark against industry peers

Enter your information below to book a demo with our team today.