Amcham: ESG strategies beneficial to businesses

Amcham CEO Nirad Tewarie. - File photo by Angelo Marcelle
Amcham CEO Nirad Tewarie. - File photo by Angelo Marcelle

AMERICAN Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) CEO Nirad Tewarie said last year’s inaugural Environmental, Social and Governance Conference (ESG) had a lot of positive feedback, but since then, some industry professionals have labelled the call for more diversity, equity and inclusion impossible to do business.

“It seems like a lot of people are unsure if the industry will be in a good place, a bad place or any place.”

Speaking at this year’s conference, held at the Hyatt Regency on May 1, Tewarie hoped this year’s discussion would reignite the same passions for the implementation of strategic goals. Using the butterfly effect as an example, he said a small step forward can have big changes.

Tewarie said companies should want to be in spaces where they can create a positive impact, but to do so, businesses must consider the “why, how and what.”

He said businesses cannot only focus on profits and target margins but must also keep people, communities and the environment in mind, saying businesses must be accountable to everyone.

“At Amcham, we have seen our role as more than helping businesses do more business, although by helping businesses navigate in an ethical way, we will achieve our goal of improving society.”

Tewarie said improving society will only create more fulfilled people and urged the business sector to accept ESG and its framework as a form of assistance to the public.

He asked, how do companies consistently create an alignment between what they say and what they are?

"There will never be a perfect alignment because everyone is dealing with change, resource constraints and global change. Businesses are impacted by global events from time to time."

He stressed the need for measuring, saying it helps with concept and practices of ESGs. Tewarie said it can help with ensuring companies are achieving their objectives.

BpTT VP for corporate operations, Giselle Thompson, whose company was the title sponsor, echoed the same sentiments of Tewarie.

She believed some people viewed the concept of ESG as either evolving or heading towards its end, saying there are many discussions and disagreements globally on its relevance.

Thompson said there is a debate focused on definitions, metrics and ill-defined goals, which all leave a lot of room for interpretation. She said there are questions about ESG simply providing a tick in the box.

“Did we gain anything last year? Is there any use in discussing issues? For bpTT as a sponsor and key member of Trinidad and Tobago's corporate community, it’s worth the investment.”

Thompson called for people to put politics, labels and definitions aside. She believes creating sustainable business models that anticipate people’s needs and help solve community issues is possible, while also making a profit.

Thompson stressed as organisations, there is an obligation to protect the environment and understand its impacts. She said businesses must manage the social impacts of their operations and relationships with employees, suppliers, customers and communities.

"Companies must understand and address their externalities to maintain their social license to operate.

“We can’t ignore the elephant in the room. The ongoing, polarising discourse is actually distracting from the advances that are being made."

She said the negative discourse surrounding ESGs is making it harder for the public and investors to understand the progress being made and to trust what is being reported.

Thompson suggests a stronger focus on the components of ESG to combat the negativity. She said what organisations do and how they do it has a wider impact on society and the planet.


"Amcham: ESG strategies beneficial to businesses"

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