Translating ESG plans into actionable strategies for a lasting impact

Posted by Tilly White | 19-Dec-2023 22:19:13

We are all aware of the importance of embracing sustainable practices, so why is the tanker not changing direction fast enough? Organisations are reporting positive returns for their ESG initiatives, however the progress of change is still slow. It’s driving a cultural change to embrace sustainable practices, and embed sustainability into the core values and operations, then translating these plans into actionable strategies that will create meaningful impact. 

The innovative approach of international league, SailGP, defines sustainability as one of its core pillars. And in 2021, SailGP’s Impact League was launched to recognise and reward teams for the positive actions they take to reduce their carbon footprint and accelerate inclusivity within the sport. Using behavioural science to ignite the competitive nature of SailGP’s world-class athletes, ‘this ultimately becomes a race for purpose, as well as sport’, says Fiona Morgan, SailGP’s 'Chief Purpose Officer. ‘It's not just about winning on the water but also winning for the planet’.  

Sharing a cue through its Impact League, SailGP offers inspiration to organisations aiming to move their sustainability initiatives from the drawing board into reality.

Set Clear Objectives: Actionable Purpose

At the core of any successful ESG strategy is the need for clear goals. The SailGP Impact League rewards athletes for 10 key sustainability criteria covering everything from clean energy solutions to diversity and inclusion. It's a practical roadmap that businesses can adopt, ensuring that commitment goes beyond words and becomes a part of daily operations within their own organisations. Considering how to incentivise and reward behavioural change and sustainable decision making could be the key to progress. At SailGP these positives are now considered to be ‘business-as-usual’.

Elevate Decision-Making to the C-Level

How do you ensure that your ESG goals are embedded within your core business? SailGP is the first organisation in sport to have a Chief Purpose Officer, an advocate for the environment at the C-level. Sustainability efforts can fall short if decision making happens in silos. Having someone at the C-level, who can be involved in all major decisions, is a game-changer. 

Be Transparent: Build Trust and Accountability

Transparency is key and SailGP affirms this by taking part in the Carbon Disclosure Project; the first sport to ever do so. They openly share achievements, challenges and future goals which builds trust and establishes accountability; a critical aspect of any ESG strategy.

Everyone has responsibility

SailGP broadened its focus beyond on-water performance, to recognise and reward teams for their commitment to positive environmental and social actions, and amplifying its athletes’  voices for good. Driving sustainability is aided by storytelling. SailGP uses its athletes to tell stories that resonate with fans. It is about tapping into what motivates people on a personal level. And the organisation leads by example too, from prioritising inclusivity by mandating all teams have at least one female member, to a sustainable operating model for every global event.  


While the call for sustainability and the practice of responsible business is loud, translating ambition into actionable strategies remains a challenge. SailGP's innovative Impact League, with its clear objectives, C-level grounding, reporting transparency and emphasis on behaviour change and accountability, serves as a compelling model for organisations aiming to swiftly turn sustainability aspirations into everyday business practice.

We held this event in partnership with Cognizant and AWS. 

Topics: Activities & Updates, Thought Leadership

Written by Tilly White

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