In the corporate and investment worlds, ESG scoring is a trending topic, along with digital accessibility. This article addresses the significance of ESG and accessibility—and presents a compelling case for why enterprise-level companies should focus on incorporating both important aspects into their operations and branding.
What does ESG mean?
ESG is an abbreviation that stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance—three key performance indicators that measure a company’s stance on corporate responsibility, sustainability, and ethical issues.
ESG standards and scoring are commonly used as a way for certain investors to screen potential investments, taking into consideration:
- Environmental impact – A company’s commitment to business practices, while minimizing its contribution to climate change, fossil fuels, greenhouse emissions, pollution, waste production, and deforestation.
- Social principles – How a company addresses hiring diversity, employee relations, working conditions, customer and vendor inclusion, community involvement, and other relationship-focused issues.
- Corporate governance – Leadership and internal governing policies concerning such factors as executive pay, shareholder rights, political lobbying, malfeasance, tax audits, internal controls, and board structure (including diversity).
A related concept to the business model of corporate social responsibility (CSR), which holds an organization accountable internally for its impact on society and the environment, ESG is the development of measurable assessment criteria for objective, quantified screening by investors and others outside of the organization.
The Significance of ESG Scoring
ESG scoring is important because it provides a quantifiable measurement for companies to perform well while doing good in the world, their communities, and their own firms.
As concerns rise about climate change, societal injustice, and corporate corruption, values-based investing and business practices have become mainstream after decades of marginalization. A growing number of investors (both institutional and individual) and other stakeholders are now holding enterprise organizations to higher standards of non-financial performance, asserting that profits should not be made by plundering the planet and treating people as expendable.
In fact, it has been found that investments in environmentally conscious and socially responsible companies may result in even higher returns than traditional corporations. According to Market Business News, “businesses that adopt ESG standards tend to be more conscientious, less risky and consequently more likely to be successful in their long-term commercial aims.”
It is encouraging that ESG reporting and compliance has steadily increased since the United Nations first introduced its Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) report in 2006. In 2020, 92% of S&P 500 companies published ESG or sustainability reports.
What is Digital Accessibility?
Just like ESG, digital accessibility has recently been in the news quite often, as the topic of several high-profile class-action lawsuits…but what does it entail?
Globally, there are at least 1.2 billion people—15% of the population—who live with some form of disability, whether mobility, cognitive, auditory, speech, visual, motor, or age-related. In the United States alone, 61 million adults (26%) have one or more disabilities.
Many of these people routinely encounter significant barriers online that prevent them from using websites and other digital assets as they are intended. Digital or web accessibility is the process of making the internet available and easily accessible to everyone, everywhere—especially for those with disabilities. Yet, fewer than 5% of websites can be fully accessed by this population worldwide.
To advance internet equality, an increasing number of governments around the globe are adopting anti-discrimination legislation for civic and commercial digital accessibility, based on a set of international standards known as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), including the U.S., Canada, U.K., the European Union, Israel, Australia, and many countries in Asia and South America.
Why is Digital Accessibility Important for ESG?
The “S” in ESG stands for “Social,” which encompasses a wide range of issues relating to the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) of employees, customers, suppliers, along with community relations, human rights, workplace health and safety, and political influences. Issues with customer service, product quality, technology, data security, and the supply chain also fall under this designation.
Although often overlooked, incorporating digital accessibility into ESG criteria is vitally important, because it involves both technology and inclusion for people with disabilities. Therefore, all enterprises should consider this an integral part of the social aspect of ESG, alongside equal rights pertaining to age, gender, LGBTIQ, race, and other underrepresented communities. DEI initiatives should include the active recruitment and hiring of employees with disabilities, as well as prioritizing certified disability-owned vendors in the supply chain.
Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE®) certification is a nationally recognized program administered by DisabilityIN, the leading nonprofit organization focused on business disability inclusion. DOBE-certified suppliers have completed a rigorous Supplier Diversity evaluation process verifying at least 51% ownership, management, and control by a person with a disability. In collaboration with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), DisabilityIN also established the Disability Equality Index (DEI)—a benchmarking tool that supports enterprises in the U.S. to achieve disability inclusion human resources goals, with a global version of this index in development. Participation in either or both of these initiatives can contribute to higher ESG scores.
Recognizing digital accessibility and disability inclusion as a vital component of ESG not only provides greater incentive for organizations to prioritize their compliance efforts, but adherence to WCAG standards can also bring numerous benefits to corporations and their investors, such as:
- Inclusiveness of disabled customers and other stakeholders.
- Increased sales to a global market influencing $13 trillion in annual disposable spending.
- Improved web page performance, search results, and SEO rankings.
- Universally enhanced online experience for ALL users.
- Competitive advantage for brands that are accessible and ESG-focused.
- Protection from expensive and damaging compliance lawsuits.
Leading enterprise level corporations in the financial, technology, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries should be at the forefront of this trend by prioritizing digital accessibility, diverse hiring practices, and meeting ESG criteria as an example for their smaller competitors to follow.
How Can Companies Become Digitally Accessible?
There are many accessibility providers clamoring for attention, but only one offers a comprehensive, 360-degree solution that streamlines compliance by using advanced automation technology, machine learning, AI (artificial intelligence) crowdsourcing, and image processing: Allyable.
Our modular suite of simple, easy-to-install SaaS tools allows developers, consultants, and large enterprise teams to fix existing compliance issues and build with accessibility in mind simply and quickly. Our unique, revolutionary platform is designed to identify and remediate a wide range of the most common accessibility barriers following WCAG 2.1+ standards—much of it automatically, by embedding only a single, secure line of code.
Allyable provides a fast, easy solution for superior auditing, immediate remediation, continuous compliance, and built-in accessibility for existing digital content and assets in development—all in one place—saving considerable time and money.
What’s more, Allyable is the only major DOBE certified digital accessibility provider—our CEO, David Adi, has a severe hearing loss—which propels our passion for making digital assets equally accessible for all. We also actively recruit employees based on diversity, including candidates with disabilities. That means selecting Allyable as your digital accessibility solution can help boost your DEI initiatives, ESG rating, SEO ranking, and bottom line.
What is ESG and why is it important?
ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria—three key measurements of a company’s approach to corporate responsibility, sustainability, and leadership, used as screening criteria by many institutional and individual investors. ESG is important because it provides an objective rating score for the non-financial performance of a business; specifically, its impact on the planet, people, and internal principles.
What is digital accessibility?
Digital accessibility is the process of removing barriers in websites and other digital assets to make the internet more easily accessible to people with disabilities.
Which companies should focus on ESG and digital accessibility?
Any organization that cares about the environment, ethical business, and its people, including customers with disabilities, should include digital accessibility in their ESG program. It is especially important for large national and global enterprises to take the lead and set an example that inspires smaller companies in their industries to emulate them.
Why is digital accessibility important for ESG scoring?
A key element of ESG rating is ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for all employees, customers, and suppliers in underrepresented communities. Digital accessibility addresses this directly by using technology to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to the internet as those without disabilities.
Make Digital Accessibility Part of Your ESG Program
Any enterprise that wants to be an ESG scoring leader for investors and other stakeholders needs to optimize its DEI efforts by prioritizing digital accessibility for the inclusion of its customers, employees, and suppliers who have disabilities. Allyable is here to help make the process fast, easy, and affordable. Visit Allyable.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.