Tag Archives: communications

ESG: MINIMAL RISK, MAXIMUM REWARD? 

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)-led investments have been thrust into the limelight over the last year. ESG-focused funds and impact investments delivered strong yields and gained additional investors, despite a broader pandemic-induced sell off. Conscious capitalism has shifted the focus for investment away from shareholders to the wider stakeholder community, reshaping the investment agenda towards one of sustainability and long-term gain. 

Is ESG enough?

Progressive policy is fuelling momentum for this trend, encouraging the private sector to Build Back Better and helping set legal precedents. With the race to achieve carbon neutrality at the top of many business agendas, leaders now have a better understanding of the scale of the challenge ahead. More businesses are now stepping up and addressing pressing issues like climate change, but is ESG enough to deliver the changes necessary? 

By 2025, a predicted third of global assets under management will have an ESG-led mandate. Should the forecast USD 53 trillion of institutional capital be allocated with ESG considerations, this will represent more than a doubling of such investment in the decade from 2016. Yet based on current investment and global indicators, social inequality is still on the rise – especially in developing markets – while the effects of climate change are worsening. 

Throwing more money at these problems isn’t enough on its own – there has to be a more considered approach. Standardising ESG measurements, for example, means capital can be deployed more effectively and efficiently. Innovative financing models, like green and social bonds, are building resilience in emerging markets – often worst hit by the neglect of global capital allocation. 

Lessons from Africa 

In Africa, every dollar of impact capital has a more profound effect than in the developed world. Access to social goods is limited. Over half of the continent does not have a reliable electricity connection, while around only a fifth of people use the internet and secondary school enrolment is a mere 43 per cent. This lays bare the level of development required, especially at a time when equality between the developed and developing world grows wider as a consequence of Covid-19.  

The continent is ahead of the curve when it comes to ESG and impact investing, being rooted in development finance. With adequate funding, it is well positioned to allocate capital to close the divide. Gong client, Old Mutual Alternative Investments (OMAI), is one of the continent’s leaders in this regard. Its investments are guided by the UN’s SDGs and assessed according to 90 separate impact measurements. As such, they are improving access to affordable education and housing, while also addressing gender and racial inequality. 

OMAI’s approach acknowledges the nuances of the investment environment, while shaping how best to generate social impact returns as well as above-market financial performance. This is evident in the infrastructure arm of OMAI’s business – African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM). The resilience of its portfolio, including renewable energy, has been proven through the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Renewable energy plants stood strong and digital infrastructure remained robust as demand for their services increased. According to the UNDP, for every dollar spent on resilience-building infrastructure, like renewable energy, the economic return is fourfold. So where the conversation of Building Back Better in Europe and America is centred on climate change, in Africa it is equally about development.

The developed world’s perspective 

Across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has realigned investing priorities and funds are allocating a larger proportion of their portfolios to generating impact. Over a fifth of retail investors in the UK plan to dedicate capital to impact generation. That proportion is even larger among people under 35, as they are more willing to trade financial returns for social ones.  

Meanwhile, we have witnessed the formation of multiple financial alliances across the institutional investment space over the last five years, driven by the same goal: to achieve carbon neutrality. Our infographic demonstrates how this movement – which most recently has been given additional fuel by the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign – has gained momentum over time. 

In the UK, we continue to see the trend for institutional investment being deployed responsibly among pension funds. The Make My Money Matter campaign, which asks pension funds to halve the emissions of portfolios by 2030, has united over 50 employers, including Gong, in tackling the climate crisis. 

ESG really is starting to make a difference. Growing awareness, a generational shift and mounting investor pressure combined with more systematic carbon reporting is accelerating the move to improved global sustainability. As we move away from greenwashing and ESG as window-dressing, the demonstrable benefits of a concerted commitment to sustainability are reasons for optimism.  

 

Top four challenges when running a virtual event – and how to solve them

Whether it’s a product launch, media briefing or industry-wide festival, devising and executing a memorable event is often a key element of an effective communications campaign.

But events can be fraught occasions, with unforeseen circumstances around every corner. Comms professionals need to be able to think on their feet and adapt quickly to a changing environment. When Covid-19 hit, with its successive lockdowns and restrictions on gatherings, event organisers faced a new test altogether.

This was certainly the case for Lloyd’s of London’s flagship insurance diversity and inclusion festival, Dive In. A Gong client since its inception in 2015, the event has grown from being hosted in just one country with 1,762 attendees to 32 countries and 10,296 participants in 2019.

Having gone from strength to strength, Dive In organisers were determined that Covid-19 would not spell the end of the festival’s success. The event was moved over to a virtual platform in 2020, resulting in its greatest success to date – running across six continents with over 140 events in 35 countries, hosting 30,153 participants. It taught us a few things about delivering virtual events. Here are some answers to the most common four challenges.

Challenge 1: How do I engage my audience at a virtual event or on a virtual platform?

Speakers or moderators are accustomed to the immediate feedback provided by the audience – notably from body language. Without that luxury on a virtual platform, here are some ways to trigger engagement:

  • Use virtual tools, such as asking for questions, comments, and polls that are linked to a graphic that displays on the screen
  • Engage audiences and promote active discussions by using digital whiteboards
  • Supercharge events with rivalry by carefully curating your speakers – for example, if an event is focused on a specific topic, invite those from competing industries to provide a more charged debate.

 

Challenge 2: How do I make sure people will attend my virtual event or meeting?

This is the fear of every event organiser – after all the hard work setting up the logistics, and inviting attendees, will the registrants actually turn up? Our top tips:

  • Make sure that once they have signed up to your virtual event, attendees are invited to instantly place it in their diary by clicking through a calendar link.
  • Send a reminder email before the event and as it begins – and a link to watch it after the event, to ensure maximum views.
  • Link your event to topical days or weeks of the year to keep them at the front of registrants’ minds. If you are running an international event, think about local awareness days that might be applicable too. Use social media assets to boost visibility of the link between the awareness day and your event.

 

Challenge 3: What is the best format for a virtual event?

There is always a place for a panel discussion with a well-curated set of guests and a good moderator (like a top journalist). However, if any format is overdone, attendees can be easily disengaged, especially if the panel format does not attract high-profile speakers. Consider the following:

  • A short video with a knowledgeable speaker talking over and/or after the images are shown.
  • A TED-style speech, filmed with distance between the speaker and the virtual audience.
  • Take to social media and consider an Instagram Live event to keep things more personal and intimate.

 

Challenge 4: How do I make my virtual event memorable?

Making a virtual event memorable is the holy grail for all event organisers. Here are our top tips:

  • Embrace Fun
    • Even if you are running a B2B event, it is still important to create a sense of fun to boost attendance and visibility. Can you create a visually engaging video? Take time to consider your opening speaker or moderator – are they suitably interesting?
  • Harness Cultural Assets
    • Broaden the scope of your event by taking it into the real world too. Adding in cultural assets can open up an event to audiences outside of your initial key target area and attract a broader visibility. For example, consider a cultural interlude during virtual events by hiring notable or local artists to perform spoken word, or commission a topical poem around your event core themes.
    • Offer pre-event giveaways with a reminder of the timings of your event to keep it front of mind.

 

Remember – you need to monitor and report on attendee numbers and engagement at all of your events to understand the impact they have had.

A checklist for planning a virtual event