42% of Irish businesses say ESG remains a priority for the coming 12 months
One quarter of Irish businesses say ESG processes improves access to capital and insurance
While Irish businesses grapple with rising inflation and the increasing cost of doing business, they are largely committed to prioritising sustainability over the coming 12 months, according to new research in the Grant Thornton International Business Report. Some 42% of Irish businesses said that the ESG agenda of their company remains a priority for the coming 12 months.
As Irish businesses continue to recover within the post-pandemic economy, many have prioritised sustainability within plans for the next 12 months, with 17% of Irish businesses saying that despite inflation and the challenging economic climate, the ESG agenda has become much more of a priority for them.
A large part of the ESG agenda for Irish businesses concerns climate-related reporting. 29% of Irish businesses believe that climate-related reporting helps them contribute to the overall aim of achieving net zero carbon emissions, while 26% feel that improves access to additional capital and/or insurance. Furthermore, some 23% said it is helping them attract and/or retain talent.
New sustainability reporting standards due to be issued by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) at the end of 2022 are also having an impact as some 23% of Irish businesses say they are following new developments and planning their approach In line with these.
Commenting on the results of the International Business Report Catherine Duggan, Director and Sustainability Specialist at Grant Thornton Ireland, said:
“As climate change moves to the forefront of the political, social and economic agenda, Irish businesses have been faced with the challenge of adopting more sustainable practices and becoming more transparent with ESG reporting.
“Irish businesses have been confronted with the uncomfortable truth that they must either embrace ESG and sustainability, or become laggards compared to their competitors or counterparts.
“It is highly encouraging to see that 42% of Irish businesses consider ESG to be a priority for the coming 12 months and it is testament to that fact that Irish businesses are forward-thinking when it comes to navigating the challenges posed by the current economic climate.”
However, while most Irish businesses are finding ways to prioritise the ESG agenda, one-fifth of enterprises have said that it has become less of a priority with investment diverted to more urgent issues, such as labour costs and the upgrading of technical controls in light of recent cyber-attacks.
The results of the IBR also found that 40% of Irish businesses believe that those starting their ESG reporting journey should ensure that ESG is integrated at all levels of the organisation in order to boost the credibility of their reporting, while 26% believe that businesses starting out should align reporting recommendations and standards by referring to the findings of the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures.
Overall, 22% of Irish businesses feel that climate-related reporting increases their competitive advantage in the industry, while 16.7% feel that it helps in retaining and attracting talent.