Insight & Analysis

Spotlight on S: looking at the Social in the middle of ESG

Published: Apr 2022

Treasury Today is in conversation with Honnus Cheung of Mojodomo, a global fintech and martech engagement platform based in Hong Kong, who have just released an exciting new whitepaper which looks at their findings on the social aspects of ESG.

Honnus Cheung of Mojodomo

Honnus Cheung explains the background to the project

MOJODOMO is a new era in customer engagement where fintech and martech converge. It is Asia’s first zero-waste, performance-based approach to loyalty marketing.

We extend the core values of loyalty marketing engagement to employee engagement. Given the recent trend of the Great Resignation, HR practitioners are concerned about losing talent and finding suitable replacements. We decided to write a whitepaper to assist HR with how to retain and engage their employees by incorporating ESG values. When it comes to the topic of ESG, many speak about environmental issues and green financing with little focus on the ‘social’ element of ESG. Some social enterprise founders talked to me about the importance of the ‘S’, which led me to come up with the idea to incorporate the ‘S’ of ESG into employee programmes, for instance, by awarding employees with vouchers of their interests.By understanding employees’ needs and passions and increasing employee satisfaction and engagement, these ESG programmes help HR acquire and retain talents.

What is the S in ESG?

So, what does the ‘S’ mean? Social refers to people in the community, that is, staff within organisations. It can be very challenging for organisations to motivate staff and participate in a socially focused community, especially with the implementation of the ESG strategy. Our ‘S’ focuses more on the people side, and we conducted a survey that provides deep insights into this side of the conversation.

Who did you speak with and what did you learn as part of this research?

The responsibility has to come from the top; if not, it is hard for the programme to have any significant impact. Having interviewed employees and employers, we understood that the business is driven by more than its profit margin. Companies can no longer afford to be swayed only by investors and shareholders; they need to view things from a multi-stakeholder perspective — one that includes investors and shareholders, but also employees, suppliers, and their wider community.

Larry Fink, BlackRock’s CEO, mentioned that business profitability is essential, but it is not our only goal. If you want to attract investors to believe in your organisation, you cannot succeed by merely approaching from the aspect of profitability. In fact, purpose is a company’s fundamental reason for being, creating values for its stakeholders.

What has further accelerated the social focus nowadays is the rise of COVID. It has spurred the advancement in digital transformation, and forced businesses and employees to reconsider how they operate, how they approach work and to realise the workplace of the future. Gen Z and millennial employees are not merely focusing on how they are receiving and benefitting from work, but also on how the company’s values align with their purposes of life to contribute to society.

Hence, what is needed, is to align your employees with your company’s purpose. Organisations need to consider the bigger picture, that is, in what way does the work they do benefit, contribute to or influence society. Once they have figured that out, business leaders then need to communicate clearly to their employees the benefits they bring. When they do that, it helps employees buy into the business’s agenda and mission statement. It makes them feel connected to causes that are important not only to society, but also to the businesses.

We want to see a more balanced ESG agenda that equally focuses on the three elements. We want to get HR teams to better understand these insights into how to drive an ESG transformation, as well as how to quantify the ‘S’ part of ESG. We should, as an industry, commence with applying some metrics to this space as it is hard to work towards progress without having measurable and quantifiable data.

How does this apply to corporate finance professionals?

CFOs and treasurers have to focus obviously on green financing and sustainable financing, but they are also managing teams and working in socially focused financing. Aside from measuring employee productivity, are there any other metrics that can measure wellbeing and mental health? Quantifying and qualifying this space is going to be significant. We should look around our organisations and consider whether they have a strategy in this space and how we can make a company more socially focused across the board. Sooner or later, a lot of companies will implement this kind of activity. Starting earlier and being more innovative and visionary in this space, as good CFOs, will be rewarding, as governments begin pushing this harder.

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