Jump to:

Discover the key pitfalls to steer clear of when communicating with companies requesting your ESG data.

What to Avoid in Communicating with Companies Who Ask for Your ESG Data

In today's business landscape, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data holds significant value for companies striving to align their practices with sustainability and social responsibility. As a result, it's increasingly common for companies to request ESG data from their partners and suppliers. While sharing your ESG data can be a valuable opportunity to showcase your commitment to sustainable practices, it's crucial to approach this communication with caution to avoid potential missteps and pitfalls. In this article, we will explore the common mistakes to avoid, as well as best practices for effectively communicating your ESG data to companies.

Common Pitfalls in Sharing ESG Data with Companies

Sharing your ESG data can be a complex process, and there are common pitfalls that you should be mindful of to ensure effective communication. When sharing ESG data with companies, it's crucial to remember that transparency is key. Transparency not only builds trust but also allows for a more meaningful exchange of information. By providing a clear rationale behind your data points and methodologies, you can help the requesting company better grasp the context of your ESG performance.

  • Lack of Context:
    Simply providing raw data without contextual information can leave the requesting company confused and unable to interpret its significance. Offer clear explanations, benchmarks, and industry comparisons to provide context to your data.
  • Failure to Prioritise Material Issues:
    Identify the material ESG issues that are most relevant to your company and the requesting company. Focus on these issues in your communication to avoid overwhelming them with excessive and less impactful information.
  • Complex or Inaccessible Reporting:
    ESG hasn’t been around for so long. So it’s natural that some people are only starting to learn and understand it. Avoid presenting your ESG data in overly complex formats or technical jargon. You want to make sure that your audience completely understands what you are talking about. Aim for simplicity and clarity in your reporting so that the requesting company can easily understand and assess your performance.

Moreover, it's essential to engage in a dialogue with the company receiving your ESG data. Encourage questions and discussions to ensure that the information shared is not only understood but also valued. This two-way communication can lead to a more collaborative approach to addressing ESG challenges and opportunities.

Missteps to Avoid in ESG Data Communication with Companies

When communicating your ESG data to companies, it's important to be aware of potential missteps that can hinder effective communication. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  1. Lack of Clarity and Relevance:
    The key to effective communication is clarity. Avoid providing vague or irrelevant information that doesn't directly address the ESG concerns of the requesting company. Be concise and focus on the most impactful data points.
  2. Overemphasis on Positive Aspects:
    While it's natural to highlight your achievements and positive ESG performance, be cautious of overemphasising them at the expense of transparency. Share the complete picture, including any challenges or areas for improvement, to build trust.
  3. Insufficient Data Verification:
    Ensure the accuracy and integrity of your ESG data by implementing extensive verification processes. Inadequately validated data can undermine your credibility and strain relationships with requesting companies.
  4. Lack of Stakeholder Engagement:
    Another crucial misstep to avoid in ESG data communication is the lack of stakeholder engagement. Companies often make the mistake of solely focusing on data provision without actively involving key stakeholders in the process. Engaging stakeholders, such as investors, employees, suppliers, customers, and communities, can provide valuable insights and perspectives that enhance the quality and relevance of your ESG data.

Moreover, overlooking the importance of continuous improvement can be detrimental to effective ESG data communication. ESG performance is not static, and companies should demonstrate a commitment to ongoing enhancement. By setting clear goals, tracking progress, and regularly updating stakeholders on initiatives and outcomes, you can showcase a proactive approach to sustainability and transparency.

Best Practices for Engaging with Companies Requesting Your ESG Data

Now that we've discussed what to avoid, let's explore some best practices that will enhance your communication when engaging with companies requesting your ESG data:

  1. Create a Clear ESG Communication Strategy:
    Develop a comprehensive strategy that outlines your approach to communicating ESG data. Set clear goals and metrics that align with your company's overall sustainability objectives. 
  1. Establish Meaningful Dialogue:
    Create a space for open and transparent conversations with the requesting company. Understand their specific ESG concerns and address them directly. Foster a collaborative relationship that enables mutual growth and improvement. 

    In this context, an anecdote from Tamàs Mehloffer serves as an example of what to avoid: a company’s supplier has demanded ESG data from them, and when the company asked why, the supplier said “Otherwise we are not buying from you.” The company had just conformed without reaching out and opening a more meaningful dialogue. This resulted in the bare minimum of the report submitted. Now, both parties could have done things differently and opened up dialogue on the goals and concerns that are material for the supplier. This way, it would have resulted in a more meaningful partnership and proactive contribution with more positive outcomes.
  1. Provide Actionable Insights:
    Go beyond raw data and offer insights that demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement. Highlight initiatives, targets, and progress toward addressing ESG challenges. For instance, provide potential solutions that you have set goals for and commit to do in the future.
  1. Use Visuals and Storytelling:
    Enhance your ESG communication by incorporating visuals and storytelling elements. Infographics, charts, and case studies can help convey complex information in a captivating manner. Take a look at how NetNada used the Bath analogy to explain the concepts of Corporate CO2. 
  1. Seek Independent Assurance:
    Consider obtaining independent assurance for your ESG data. External verification can enhance the credibility and reliability of your data, instilling confidence in the requesting company.

Creating a clear ESG communication strategy is crucial for effectively engaging with companies requesting your data. This strategy should not only outline your approach but also provide a roadmap for achieving your sustainability objectives. By setting clear goals and metrics, you can ensure that your communication aligns with your company's overall mission and values.

When establishing meaningful dialogue, it's important to approach conversations with an open mind and a willingness to listen. Let the requesting company know that you hope to engage with them a little more to enhance your understanding of their specific ESG concerns and the data that they need, so you can tailor your communication to address their needs directly. 

This collaborative approach fosters a relationship built on trust and mutual understanding, leading to long-term partnerships that drive positive change. In addition to providing raw data, offering actionable insights is a powerful way to demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement. By highlighting specific initiatives, targets, and progress made in addressing ESG challenges, you showcase your company's dedication to making a real impact. This not only enhances your communication but also inspires others to follow suit.

Visuals and storytelling can be incredibly effective in conveying complex ESG information in a captivating manner. Infographics, charts, and case studies can bring your data to life, making it more accessible and engaging for the requesting company. By presenting your information in a visually appealing and narrative-driven way, you can effectively communicate the importance and impact of your ESG efforts.

Lastly, seeking independent assurance for your ESG data adds an extra layer of credibility and reliability. External verification provides an unbiased evaluation of your data, ensuring its accuracy and completeness. This verification process instils confidence in the requesting company, as they can trust that your ESG data has undergone rigorous scrutiny and meets the highest standards.

Ensuring Transparency: Tips for Communicating ESG Data Effectively

Transparency is a cornerstone of effective ESG data communication. Here are some tips to ensure transparency in your communication:

When it comes to communicating ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) data, being timely and consistent is crucial. Providing ESG data regularly, and adhering to the agreed-upon reporting schedule, is key to building trust and credibility with stakeholders. Consistency in reporting not only demonstrates your commitment to transparency but also allows for better tracking of progress and performance over time.

Another important aspect of transparent ESG data communication is the disclosure of limitations and assumptions. It is essential to acknowledge any constraints or assumptions that may impact the interpretation of the data being presented. By being upfront about potential uncertainties, you exhibit integrity and prevent any potential misinterpretation of the information provided.

  • Be Timely and Consistent:
    Provide ESG data regularly, adhering to the agreed-upon reporting schedule. Consistency builds trust and demonstrates your commitment to transparency.
  • Disclose Limitations and Assumptions:
    Acknowledge any limitations or assumptions that may affect the interpretation of your data. Being upfront about potential uncertainties shows integrity and prevents misinterpretation.
  • Invite Feedback and Dialogue:
    Encourage the requesting company to provide feedback on your ESG data and reporting practices. Actively seek their input to improve your future communication.
  • Publish Your Policies and Procedures:
    Make your ESG policies and reporting procedures readily available to the requesting company. This ensures transparency and helps them evaluate your adherence to industry best practices.

Moreover, fostering an environment of feedback and dialogue is essential for effective ESG data communication. Encouraging the requesting company to provide feedback on your ESG data and reporting practices can lead to valuable insights and improvements. Actively seeking input from stakeholders demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement and transparency in your communication efforts.

Applying these in a real-life example, let’s learn from Nils Giesen’s anecdote: “In a previous project as a sustainability consultant for a European-based manufacturing company, we embarked on a journey to enhance our ESG performance and reporting. One key aspect of this initiative was engaging with our extensive network of suppliers and partners. Initially, it became evident that successful ESG data collection wasn't just about sending out requests; it was a collaborative process. We organised workshops and meetings to communicate our sustainability objectives, the importance of ESG data, and the mutual benefits of transparent reporting. These sessions were vital for ensuring that our partners understood the broader context and the positive impact of their contributions.”


In conclusion, effective communication of ESG data to companies necessitates a strategic, transparent, and collaborative approach. By avoiding common pitfalls such as lack of context, overemphasis on positive aspects, and insufficient stakeholder engagement, organisations can foster meaningful dialogue and build trust with requesting companies. Embracing best practices such as creating clear communication strategies, providing actionable insights, using visuals and storytelling, seeking independent assurance, and ensuring transparency in reporting can elevate ESG data communication to a proactive and mutually beneficial endeavour. Through the real-life examples and anecdotes mentioned, it's evident that transparent and collaborative efforts lead to long-term partnerships that drive positive change and contribute to a more sustainable business ecosystem. Ultimately, remember that effective communication is a two-way street that requires collaboration, transparency, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Share this post on:

Join us on our way to Zero

Sign up for the very best interviews and guides to support you on your sustainability journery
We care about your data in our privacy policy.
Welcome to the dream team!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join us on our way to Zero

Sign up for the very best interviews and guides to support you on your sustainability journery
We care about your data in our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Knowledge Center

Continue learning about sustainability and a zero-carbon future

View all
Level up your sustainability
We’ll send you a nice letter once per week. No spam.
We care about your data in our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.