Lauren Demar on ESG through a market research lens

We recently welcomed Lauren Demar, Chief Sustainability Officer & Global Head of ESG at Ipsos to our market research podcast to talk about matters of environment, social, and governance in relation to business - through the lens of market research. She kicked off our discussion with an optimistic take on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) initiatives, saying that although the sector can seem overwhelming and massive, society is progressively moving toward making ESG a global priority.

She gives listeners a short overview of exactly what ESG means, noting that it is distinct from CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility which is traditionally associated with corporate philanthropy and doing good without a strong focus on financial return.

ESG is an operational and risk management framework that aims to create shareholder value through its three core components: Environmental (E), Social (S), and Governance (G). E concerns how a business affects the environment, such as carbon emissions and recycling. S pertains to how a business treats its employees, customers, and communities. G deals with how a business governs itself, including board composition, executive compensation, ethics, and auditing.

Lauren shared more about the Ipsos mission to deliver reliable information so that the world can make better decisions. “Our take as a company is that we can help the world be a better place if we're providing true and accurate information and putting that in the hands of the world's decision makers in the public and the private sectors.” This relates back to ESG, because Ipsos is in a unique position to inform citizens, businesses and the media about how ESG is evolving in society.

She says, “in a world where there's more and more fake news, and more and more unreliable information, people aren't sure where the truth lies anymore. So Ipsos is contributing to the betterment of society because we're providing accurate and reliable data that businesses and governments can use to base decisions on and take action.” Ipsos is committed to sharing data generously on ESG topics and has a dedicated ESG hub to provide easy access to insights.

ESG trends are continually evolving and influenced by the concerns of the day. People are more focused on immediate issues that directly affect their lives, such as inflation and social inequality. Climate change, while a critical concern, sometimes takes a backseat as it is perceived as a more distant threat. Furthermore, the world is currently experiencing "crisis overload" due to multiple simultaneous crises, affecting people's mental health. A significant challenge is the knowledge gap on effective ESG actions. 

From a market research standpoint, Lauren says that teams need to understand the value chain of business questions related to ESG, ensuring that all departments are involved. These teams collaborate with various stakeholders such as corporate affairs, corporate communications, and chief sustainability officers to address interconnected challenges. Market research professionals play a vital role in helping organizations innovate sustainably, communicate effectively, and measure the impact of their ESG initiatives.

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