Progressing With ESG – The Impact of Your “S” Factor

The focus of this article is the “S” in ESG, often referred to as the “S” factor for your business’ Social initiatives and their impact. 

The objective here is how will you or your Company’s leader answer your customers, your employees, your community representatives or someone who is evaluating purchasing or investing in your business, in your products or your services when asked:  

What are you or your business doing to improve and progress relationships with “people” -- your employees, customers, stakeholders and the Societies, Community, and Industry in which you operate and make your living”? 

(Typical examples are your Company’s workplace Health and Safety initiatives + record; implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives plus eliminating discrimination; holding suppliers accountable to the Company’s/Organization’s standards and values; no unethical business actions against Customers, employees or suppliers and the support of and engagement with Community + Industry improvement actions).  

This question needs to be answered with the same confidence and fortitude as you answer current questions on your products, operations, your services or your jobsThe “S” factor is increasingly cited as an everyday business success issue, with “people” making their choices based on requesting, seeking and evaluating the information and the answers they receive from you or your Company.  

Often the “S” factor has a larger impact on “peoples” decisions than the E or G categories of ESG.  

Providing these answers may seem very broad and challenging especially with all the other immediate day to day business issues that we all face. However, you now have the opportunity to be recognized for what one has done/is doing now and will do to fulfill our future Social initiatives, the same as we do to have impact from the other areas of our business for our products, operations, services or jobs. 

For example, can you increase your participation in or recommit to membership in the Associations that serve our Industry from which we make our livelihood?  

In the case of HRAI, activating and continuing your membership, local chapter involvement and joining Committees or Task Forces scores involvement, improves your knowledge for your business, opens opportunity to influence our politicians, contributes to Environmental, Code, Best Practices and other actions all while improving your “S” factor’s impact. Advances in meeting technologies are also now time efficient and favorable. 

The Pandemic itself was an example of how we as businesses responded on the “S” factor or our Social responsibility actions and impact. Keeping our employees, customers, “people” safe, reassured and taking other Social actions in our Communities 

Some Companies paid workers even though they were not at their jobs, remote work was allowed, social distancing was mandated, some businesses recognized front line workers with pay increases, some food service businesses cooked meals for the needy or for front-line Health workers while their kitchens had little activity from paying customers.  

Safety precautions for all involved in operating businesses were adopted preceding, meeting or exceeding legislation. 

As you make your inventory of your own Social actions do not forget about including what you did during the Pandemic and any continuing regimens. 

Plus, any plans that you have for the present and the future if another crisis hits. 

For example, currently we see crises of ice storms, forest fires, tornados, hurricanes, floods and other disruptive events in Canadian and North American locations. How are/would you respond in the middle of these crises for the safety of your “people”, products and Community Social responsibilities?  

We live through the consequences of political events like the war in Ukraine, Canadian, Provincial, and Municipal Government decisions. Though out of our immediate control how we respond through our businesses for our “People” and “S” factor impact need be recorded and recognized. You can choose to be active or support Associations who take actions and interactions with our politicians (Queens Park Day, Day on the Hill, Task Force Members, Municipal contact, etc.). 

Recognize the Codes and Standards/Approvals processes that our Industry mandates (for Safety + Quality) and our own commitment to meeting or overachieving these levels in your “S’ factor listing. (Unless knowingly using inferior product, misleading “people” on product/services or business commitments, etc.). Whether individually or through Associations, being active on Codes and Standards reviews, public consultations and submissions is another way you can increase activities for your “S” factor impact.   

For all of us in the HVACR industry there is a Social benefit to providing the comfort, clean air and water that we have the knowledge to bring to our “People”, to our Communities and to Society as a whole. This was magnified during the Pandemic with the focus on Indoor Air Quality/ Indoor Environment Quality in homes buildings, schools, hospitals etc. You can identify your role and your role to come here. 

Most businesses operate on a profit or on a cost recovery basis making decisions on resources, cost, payback and ROI a part of their operations. Prudent businesses and owners now realize the presence and growing importance of ESG to the business’ “people” and embrace it.  The “S” factor can be one of your most cost efficient, highest impact activities. 

Your promptness on inventorying, reporting and planning your “S” factor activities will be rewarded. With the breadth of all activities being available and no standardized measurement or scoring methods yet (being developed, not issued yet), you are able to include what you wish at present. Take advantage of this opportunity, build your “S” factor activities listing now to confidently answer your “People” and to differentiate yourself from your Competition.  

Enquiries for more information are welcome. Contact John R. Williams, 416-705-0727 or, or Caroline Czajko 

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