When it comes to ESG reporting, it pays to be ahead. Regulators around the world are clamping down on greenwashing and stakeholders increasingly expect businesses to have solid, data-driven ESG strategies. In the UK alone, large firms must now make certain mandatory ESG disclosures, with similar rules being enacted abroad.
So when Home Credit Group decided to publish its first ESG report, it was clear that there was a lot to do.
As a leading consumer finance specialist, Home Credit Group helps underserved customers access responsible and trusted financial services. Operating in over nine markets, there have been no shortage of successes and challenges for the Group when it comes to achieving its sustainability goals, and realising that they needed an experienced team to bring together the Group’s efforts into one, cohesive ESG report, Home Credit Group turned to us. Home Credit’s Chief Reputation Officer, Jan Ruzicka, leads the Group’s sustainability and ESG initiatives, and we recently caught up with him to discuss Home Credit’s experience of publishing its first ESG report.
The universal challenge
Even for companies that don’t have to report their ESG performance (yet), the direction of travel is clear. Where once ESG reporting was a voluntary endeavour, today it’s not only a legal requirement for many, but the key to achieving long-term, sustainable growth. From the billions being invested into ESG funds every month to the improved returns ESG funds are delivering, it’s clear investors expect sustainable results.
But it’s no secret that the world of ESG reporting is complex. There’s no common alignment between countries on requirements for ESG disclosures, meaning companies with global supply chains have to meet different standards for every market they operate in. Accurately gathering the data to demonstrate that you are meeting standards is also no easy feat, particularly for firms approaching ESG reports for the first time. But there are best practice processes to follow and companies can take inspiration from others’ efforts in reporting – like that of Home Credit Group.
What prompted Home Credit Group to publish its first ESG report?
“When I think about it, it was a very organic process for us. We’re a regulated entity in all the markets we operate in, so we already ticked ESG boxes from a governance point of view. It’s second nature to us. Meeting our social commitments is something we feel very strongly about, especially giving back, corporate social responsibility, creating an inclusive and safe environment for all our colleagues and continuously improving a great customer experience. Our social and corporate governance commitments are embedded in our purpose and mission, so it made sense to bring that all together in one coherent ESG report and strategy. It was a natural evolution, rather than a revolution, and it came from within – not from external stakeholders.”
What were you looking for in your agency partner?
“We were looking for somebody with experience, a good track record, and cultural and intellectual curiosity. We’re a truly diverse group with operations spread everywhere around the globe, from the US to Europe to multiple large Asian countries. We have over 70 nationalities working inside Home Credit, so we needed an agency that could efficiently manage different time zones, cultures and approaches.”
How would you describe the process of preparing your first ESG report?
“We ticked most of the ESG boxes before there was even any ESG regulation, but when it came to comprehensively codifying everything into one report across all our markets, we knew we needed the data. Lots of data. That was the longest and most critical part. The rest was a pleasant, though lengthy, process of writing and storytelling.”
What did you enjoy most about the process?
“I liked seeing the practical implementation of the ESG strategy and seeing how ESG works for our operational risk, investor relations, funding and day-to-day workings. Many people in the firm believe that ESG is something nice to have or just a new buzzword, and I suppose that is to be expected. It’s when you are able to show them practical results and real achievements, that’s when you create a real ‘wow’ moment.”
What advice would you give to others embarking on the same task?
“Really plan ahead for it. Do internal advocacy throughout the organisation. Having good buy-in is essential if you want an ESG strategy to be anything more than a publicity stunt, or greenwashing. So carry out thorough advocacy internally and make sure people are on board, plan ahead and prepare to invest the time it takes to get it right.”
With our help, Home Credit published a compelling report that showcased the values and commitments of the Group when it comes to achieving sustainability goals. Weaving together the different aspects of its inspiring sustainability story, this report lays the foundations for Home Credit’s long-term strategy.
We’ve worked with clients of all shapes and sizes to bring their ESG strategies and achievements to life. We know exactly what a steep learning curve the process can be, and we know how to avoid some common pitfalls along the way. Speak to us about how we can help you with your first ESG report.