Business ESG Goals for Business OKRs

A selection of actionable goals for private sector organizations in aid of impactful ESG OKRs

In our previous article we  reviewed most common ESG frameworks and illustrated how they do not meet ESG needs of private enterprises.   Some Frameworks are designed to support public sector organizations, such as the UN's SDGs.  the majority of them, though, are targeted to investors and run the risk of greenwashing organizations.

The only framework that we have found that is both business-oriented and enables the outcome focussed activities central to OKR  best practices is the Future-Fit Business Benchmark (FFBB). Now, in full transparency, I need to declare that my team and I have been involved in the research and validation of the framework and you will find our name on their list of collaborators.

The Benchmark is an innovative tool that helps companies help the world move toward a more sustainable, just, and inclusive future.

It provides a clear definition of what it means for a business to be truly responsible and regenerative, with a clear destination to aim for and a pathway to reach it.

If you work with or inside a business, the Benchmark equips you to do three things:

  • Firstly, it helps you set better environmental and social goals - ones that meet the needs of both the business and society as a whole.
  • Secondly, it provides detailed guidance on how to make and measure meaningful progress in pursuit of those ambitions.
  • Lastly, it shifts the narrative to focus on the future: where the company is going,  how it’s working to get there, and why that is good for both the business and society as a whole.

It covers the scope of the SDGS (and other frameworks) with Goals and Objectives ideally suited to the private sector’s ESG-centric OKRs. These are goals that every business must strive to achieve and all of which should be included in your ESG OKRs. 

We have identified eight goal areas in which all businesses can actively participate:

  1. Energy is renewable and available to all
  2.  Water is responsibly sourced and available to all
  3.  Natural resources are managed to safeguard communities, animals and ecosystems
  4.  The environment is free from pollution
  5.  Waste does not exist
  6.  Our physical presence protects the health of ecosystems and communities
  7.  People have the capacity and opportunity to lead fulfilling lives
  8.  Social norms, Global governance and economic growth drive the pursuit of future-fitness 

Now, You could use these 8 goals as your objectives, but we have found many organizations break them down to the next level, which looks along these lines: 

FFBB Goals and Objectives

Many organizations have floundered on their attempts to link their ESG efforts to the UN’S SDGs.  FFB is a science-based methodology for identifying what it means for companies to be 'truly sustainable'- and could prove helpful for SMEs to identify, understand, and explain their holistic set of positive and negative impacts, and explain those impacts in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a concise, comparable, measurable way.

In our experiments and then with clients, we repeatedly saw that many of these companies considered that they saw significant gains in:

  • Attracting and retaining great talent
  • Engaging employees and raising employee satisfaction
  • Improving the perception of the organization in the communities in which they operated
  • Significantly improved their performance in all of their targeted ESG areas
  • Effect of each medicating to all stakeholders their ESG efforts and the benefits they have achieved, and
  • Raising capital.

It takes a bit of finesse to work these within any organization’s strategic intent, but so far we have always found a solution. 

In our next article, we will move to the Key Results and provide ideas of what to measure in each Objective.

Brett Knowles

Brett Knowles is a thought leader in the Strategy Execution space for high-tech organizations. His client work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, and many other business publications.

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