The ESG landscape can be just as rewarding as it can be challenging. At its core, it’s a part of a business that seeks to do well: investing with impact and creating a positive change across its value chain of stakeholders.
In 2022, society will continue to expect companies to be a part of the solutions and initiatives that will fuel the world’s recovery.
Having and communicating this intent can be accomplished through several means, but perhaps the most important is actually having it, which is achieved by having a well-established, strong business purpose – and fulfilling it through thoughtful, related ESG initiatives. Think of a headphone company dedicated to celebrating the beauty of audio, helping out those with hearing disabilities… or how AB InBev strives to Dream Big to Create a Future With More Cheers, by aligning its strategy with UN SDGs such as reducing road traffic crashes, building a more diverse future, and reducing the harmful consumption of alcohol.
Purpose brings colleagues closer to the cause – but how can companies show that they really do mean good? There are plenty of ways – but here are two I believe work best:
- Measuring total impact through unbiased, independent experts who can provide detailed feedback of what’s working, and what’s not, but also showcases that a company is sharing learnings it might be committing in its approach. See the example listed below.
- Communicating results transparently and consistently. If something isn’t working well, it should be disclosed and addressed publicly – if say, for instance, a certain initiative didn’t yield the expected results or social impact that was initially planned, a company would be more successful if what went wrong is shared, to then learn, adapt or change from the experience.
In short, a company needs to be, breathe, and believe what it was placed on this earth to do through its purpose on all fronts and talk about its achievements extensively and openly. The modern stakeholder is more than a shareholder: he or she is a member of society and will always hold a company to the highest ethical and moral standards.
Impact Measurement Example: Tienda Cerca
Maria opened her Tienda 28 years ago. She sells sugar, rice, milk, and other daily supplies. It opens from 6 am to 10 pm, she works alone most of the time, and sometimes her sons help her. Having a Tienda in Latin America is a very important job, and much more so in these times of pandemic, because neighborhoods and communities depend on Tiendas to buy their daily food and products. In addition, they are the source of income for millions of families in the region.
When COVID started in March 2020, at Anheuser-Busch InBev we launched the Tienda Cerca program as a quick response to the crisis, because owners of Tiendas like Maria couldn’t sell their products anymore. Tienda Cerca is a free online delivery platform for essential supplies, food, and beverages, that allowed Tiendas to stay open and deliver products to their customers and stay connected.
After two years of the pandemic, the program has evolved to bring digital and financial solutions to the Tiendas’ owners, improve their business and life skills and help them thrive.
The Challenge: How to measure the solution and implement it again elsewhere
How to ensure we measured the impact of this program effectively, learning and adapting to scale up the Tienda Cerca program to benefit more countries and more people like Maria?
At AB InBev we measure everything we do rigorously and based on our previous experience with the #SmartDrinking City Pilots’ program, together with public health experts, academics, and AB InBev Foundation we implemented a data and measurement system to track our progress and transparently communicate results. We will follow this experience to measure the Tienda Cerca program well into the future.
Here’s to a 2022 filled with purpose.
All my best,