Every once in a while, we have to let our minds wander. I had a work daydream recently that captured my attention enough to write down. The topic is one I think about frequently because as an impact industry, we are long on critiques and short on solutions. We are apt to dig deeply on studies but tread lightly when implementing a new method. We are more likely to invest resources in making current metrics slightly better rather than stepping back to consider what future metrics should be.
I started to list S in ESG metrics that felt accessible (i.e., the data exists), meaningful, and comparable…but are still not feasible. They are not feasible because I don’t believe large companies would share them externally. Approval to disclose wouldn’t happen because of concerns about risk, exposure, or divestment. Some of the best ideas come when thinking isn’t constrained by requiring practicality, so I wrote them down anyway.
Top 10 S in ESG Metrics, Daydream Edition
$ Lowest wage paid to an employee (full or part time)
% Employees paid that lowest wage
$ Political influence (PAC donations, Association memberships, Paid lobbyists)
% Men on the board of directors
# Average years served by board of director members
% White in management roles (responsibility to hire, promote)
% Voluntary attrition, employees that identify as LGBTQ+
% Employees (PT or FT) with supplemental employment (part-time, contractor, freelance, entrepreneur)
% Employees (PT or FT) accessing public benefits (food stamps, Medicaid)
(XX/XXX) Date final payment was made to complete the most recent pay equity review
The reason the top ten includes specific demographic groups is because it launches those assessing data more quickly to action, rather than weighing them down with multiple different cuts and categories of a demographic dataset. Voluntary attrition is a proxy to understand inclusion. Systemic disclosure of the lowest wage creates a natural incentive to increase it, and that increase is likely to have a ripple effect for other employees that may not be at the lowest wage, but close to it. Looking at public benefits and second jobs is a way to assess societal costs that the company could bear but have been externalized.
Imagine the behavior changes and shift in decision-making if this information was commonly found in external reporting. S in ESG data as a change agent - realized! If you have actually seen a company sharing multiple of these metrics externally – PLEASE send me the link and wake me from this daydream. Or, if you believe some of these are already commonly reported, I would love to hear about it and learn something new.