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  • Richard Brown

Beyond the Buzzword: ESG in a post-Covid world

Today, business must be about far more than just the bottom line. In the US, we’ve seen CEOs of leading companies declare that they’ll put purpose before shareholder value, and over 650 firms in the UK back the Better Business Act. In step with this shift, the world’s biggest investors are increasingly voting in favour of tackling the climate crisis and making a positive social impact.

For Hi55 Ventures, which was built with the mission to make the world financially stronger, environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments are part of our foundations. Securing Social Enterprise UK accreditation and Pending B Corp Status have been crucial first steps for us that have strengthened our platform for rapid growth at home and internationally, particularly the US.

“For fast-growing businesses, getting your ESG strategy right at an early stage is essential to achieving sustainable growth,” says Andrew Macadam, Global Field Lead at Microsoft for Startups. “It’s important that companies in our programme share our values and it’s clear that’s the case at Hi.”

Like Microsoft, we’re committed to transparency and accountability on ESG issues. We believe that making a positive impact starts with your role as an employer. Putting your employees first isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s good for business too. A recent study found that 70% of executives say that improved employee experience leads to a better customer experience and revenue growth.

Enabling open, trust-first relationships with all employees, regardless of seniority, supports better governance and helps your people make their voices heard. That’s precisely why we appointed an employee representative to the board at Hi. Our approach appears to be bearing fruit already, with our recent employee survey confirming that 87% of our colleagues “love their job”.

We know it’s vital for companies to take steps to ensure they reflect society as well their as staff. For example, it’s been found that ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to perform better and this is also true of firms that, like Hi, have at least one woman on the board.

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our business strategy and collective mindset, and this is reinforced by the appointments we’ve made to our board and management teams.

Companies of every size must have this issue at the top of their agenda. The Gender and Diversity KPI Alliance, formed by Catalyst with a wide range of firms, academics, and trade bodies, is a good place to start in terms of a framework for measuring diversity and inclusion efforts.

At Hi, we evaluate whether our team reflects the demographics of the communities in which we operate – and we’ll publish these results each year to make sure we’re accountable and transparent about our progress.

The global business community would admit that it still has a long way to go on diversity and inclusion. Sadly, the same can be said about combatting climate change.

A study in June 2021 found that 72% of millennials and 58% of Gen Z’s worry that the corporate promise to tackle climate change will fall by the wayside in the face of the challenges caused by the pandemic.

We must all accelerate and strengthen our commitments to the environment. At Hi, we’re focused on sustainable growth, and this includes ensuring that no transaction comes at the expense of our planet. From Microsoft to NTT Data and Mastercard, we’re excited to be collaborating with inspirational firms playing their part to help tackle climate change.

Shweta Chugh, Chief Commercial Officer, at Hi55 Ventures says: “We firmly believe that even young, fast-growing start-ups should be setting ambitious ESG goals, and applying robust monitoring and reporting to help make them a reality.

“We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made already but our current commitments are just the beginning – there’s so much more to come.”