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How ESG Benchmarking Will Shape Your Industry

Staying Ahead of the Curve in a Changing Sustainability Landscape

Executive Summary:

In today's business world, keeping tabs on the competition is key for staying ahead. Similarly, for businesses looking to become more sustainable, knowing where the competition stands can give you a major edge. ESG benchmarking is a process that helps you pinpoint where to focus your sustainability efforts, build trust with stakeholders, and seize new growth opportunities. This crucial step provides a detailed roadmap for your ESG journey, saving you time and resources while maximizing your impact. ESG data management platforms with benchmarking capabilities, like ECO-OS, make this process a breeze. Let's dive in and explore how ESG benchmarking can streamline your ESG strategy and elevate your business to the next level.

In this blog post:

What is ESG Benchmarking?

You’ve probably heard of benchmarking before—it’s all about measuring your company against competitors in areas like performance and product quality. ESG benchmarking is similar but dives deeper; it not only examines your Environmental, Social, and Governance factors against others in your industry, but it looks at your long-term targets and strategies for improving those scores. Think of it as your guide to navigating the path to greater sustainability and long-term success in a increasingly conscious market landscape that values sustainable and ethical business practices.

Why is ESG Benchmarking Important?

ESG assessments involve tons of data points, but benchmarking helps you zero in on what's really important to your industry. Between the three main ESG pillars (Environmental, Social, and Governance) lay a myriad of potential KPIs. A comprehensive benchmarking process helps you filter out the ones that are less significant to you based on various industry standards and guidelines, as well what your peers are doing. For example, the apparel industry may place emphasis on fair trade and labor rights, while the chemical industry may focus on hazardous materials and environmental impact. By pinpointing the key ESG metrics for your industry, you'll put aside what's less significant for you right now, leaving you to focus on measurable and reasonable goals that give you a competitive edge.

More Benefits to ESG Benchmarking

Beyond giving you a clear direction for your ESG efforts, ESG benchmarking offers several other notable benefits:

  • Fosters trust and credibility with investors, customers, and other stakeholders by showing your commitment to responsible business practices.

  • Identifies opportunities for new and alternative techniques, technologies, resources, and markets, driving innovation and efficiency within your organization.

  • Ensures compliance (and excellence) with current and emerging regulations and guidelines (e.g. CSRD, SASB, SBTi).

  • Helps identify and manage risks related to ESG, such as supply chain disruptions or reputational damage.

  • Sets the stage for materiality assessments (as required by many reporting bodies)

  • Boosts long-term financial performance by aligning your business strategies with sustainability goals, future-proofing your company against environmental and social challenges.

Ultimately, ESG benchmarking can push your company toward a more resilient and prosperous future, staying ahead of competition and regulation and in tune with the ever-evolving global sustainability landscape.

The Challenge of ESG Benchmarking

Once you've nailed down which ESG categories and key metrics matter most to your industry, you can create an action plan with KPIs and other milestones based on industry standards and what competitors are doing. The tricky part is that data is often hard to find, poorly organized, and tough to compare on a single scale. How do you compare your mid-sized manufacturing business to a small boutique company? Or your multinational enterprise to a regional competitor? There is no one-size-fits-all answer, so you'll need a guide to keep you focused, setting reasonable and actionable short-term metrics and long-term goals to stay on track.

Your Benchmarking Toolbox

To  get those most out of ESG benchmarking, ditch the manual work and spreadsheets for something way more efficient: a comprehensive ESG data management solution. ECO-OS is a cloud-based software that serves up extensive benchmarking stats tailored to your specific industry, and even covers multiple industries if your business doesn't neatly fit into one box. With ECO-OS, you'll know exactly where you stand among your direct competitors and draw inspiration from the best-in-class sustainability practices to shape your long-term plan. Your business is unique, so why settle for a one-size-fits-all approach? Opt for a tailor-made platform that delivers robust, precise, and actionable insights with the same amount of effort.

A compass to guide your ESG journey


Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD): An obligatory reporting framework enacted by the European Parliament that applies to certain companies with operations taking place in the European Union. The mandate requires companies to report on specific ESG metrics, conduct a double materiality assessment (considering both the impact of the company on the environment and the impact of environmental issues on the company), and undergo third party assurance to verify the accuracy and reliability of their ESG disclosures.

 Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB):  A framework that provides industry-specific standards to guide companies in reporting their ESG metrics. SASB standards highlight the most material ESG issues relevant to different industries, providing companies with specific guidelines to focus on in their reporting and decarbonization efforts.

Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi): A voluntary initiative that provides companies with a roadmap for creating a reasonable and actionable decarbonization plan grounded in climate science. The SBTi ensures that targets set by companies are in line with the latest climate science necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, promoting credible and ambitious climate action.

ESG assessment: A detailed review of the Environmental, Social, and Governmental factors affecting a company and its stakeholders, including investors, employees, customers, communities, and shareholders. By considering these factors, stakeholders can get a more holistic and comprehensive view of the company's risks, opportunities, and impact. It examines the company's environmental impact (e.g., pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, water usage), social impact (e.g., employee welfare, community engagement, labor rights), and governance practices (e.g., corporate conduct, ethics, conflicts of interest).

Materiality Assessment: An inclusive exercise where companies engage with stakeholders to identify the most significant ESG factors relevant to them. This process recognizes all key stakeholders to the company, such as investors, customers, employees, communities, ESG rating agencies, regulatory bodies, among others. Companies then compile material topics relevant to each stakeholder group and prioritize them based on their potential impact on the company's long-term performance and reputation.

Double Materiality Assessment: Evaluates not just how the company’s operations affect the broader environment and society, but how external environmental and social issues may impact the company's financial performance and reputation. The CSRD mandate requires companies to report only on ESG issues deemed material, supported by their double materiality assessments. This approach provides a comprehensive understanding of risks and opportunities essential for navigating today's business landscape.


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