ESG - Who takes care of that?

Many companies fail to adequately follow up on sustainability and ESG despite ambitious goals and announcements from management. The issue is that challenges quickly arise when transitioning from goals to large-scale action.

One of the most common obstacles I encounter in executing sustainability and ESG initiatives is the difficulty in creating buy-in across the organisation. It can seem paradoxical that while support for sustainability is expressed within the organisation, there is simultaneously a form of organisational abdication of responsibility. This manifests in the belief that someone else should take action on sustainability, resulting in far too little progress.

The content of ESG is so complex that achieving goals requires strong collaboration across different disciplines, functions, and business areas within the company. An ESG unit and a few flagship projects within the business cannot accomplish this alone.

I often observe a widespread hope that an ESG unit will fix the ESG goals and challenges for the company. And yes, they certainly play an important role, as they possess crucial ESG expertise and can help the organisation stay focused and drive cross-functional collaboration. But much more is needed, and recognising this is the starting point for succeeding with sustainability and ESG.

Sustainability Competencies Are Scarce

When choosing to take responsibility, the question arises: What is the right thing to do? The answer is that organisations as a whole need more competencies in sustainability. This especially involves:

  • The ability to assess whether one initiative is more sustainable than another.
  • Skills to sell and communicate how the company is sustainable.
  • Knowledge to develop products and services that help customers become more sustainable.
  • Among leaders and project managers, there is a lack of skills to integrate sustainability at both strategic and tactical levels, so sustainability is not just an afterthought.

One of the tools I use as a consultant, which I have also introduced in courses on transforming to greater sustainability, is stakeholder momentum planning. Often, you cannot get everyone on board at once, so this tool helps create support in several “waves.” This builds momentum that helps ensure broad implementation and scalability. It is one of the tools that all my clients highly appreciate.

Unlearning for Leaders and Project Managers

There are also things that leaders and project managers need to unlearn. Many leaders have spent years with a narrow focus on traditional economic measures. This has encapsulated our understanding of innovation, efficiency, and the bottom line. It requires a conscious effort to look elsewhere for solutions and to challenge how we innovate and with whom we innovate, ensuring the company´s long-term relevance and the bottom line.

Involve the Value Chain

This brings us to a crucial point when aiming for sustainability and large-scale action: looking beyond your organisation – to the entire value chain.

Sustainability solutions already largely exist, but the lack of maturity and scaling within organisations hinders progress. Here, collaboration within the value chain can be particularly useful, as we can help and learn from each other. The value chain is also important regarding data. Without relevant data, it is impossible to set a proper baseline and obtain documentation that verifies progress and avoids greenwashing.

Once again, competencies play a decisive role, because with strong knowledge, one can competently engage in collaboration both upstream and downstream in the value chain; identify potentials, demand specific data, and select and attract partners that strengthen both one’s own and others’ ESG efforts. If you also feel that you are not far enough along in achieving your sustainability goals, my advice is to look with fresh eyes at the lack of engagement, competencies, and collaboration in the value chain.


Berit Kristine Bøggild is Client Director and Sustainability Expert at Mannaz. Berit primarily works with sustainability and ESG across several sectors, including production, construction, energy and utilities, financial services, and public agencies and municipalities.

Berit is also the lead instructor for the DI x Mannaz Sustainability Education – Masterclasses in Sustainability and ESG.

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This article was first published in Business Review in danish.
See the whole ESG publication in danish on page 5 here.

Meet Berit

For any inquiries please reach out to Berit Kristine Bøggild.

Berit works with sustainability and ESG in several companies within production, construction, energy and utilities, financial services, public agencies and municipalities.

Berit is also the lead instructor on several Mannaz programmes and Masterclasses within sustainability and ESG.

Client Director
+45 2295 0151

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