From Complying to Thriving: Transforming the Perception of Corporate Social Responsibility - Alexandra Morehouse

Alexandra Morehouse

Even before COVID-19 turned the world on its ear, the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) movement was rapidly gaining ground. According to a report from US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, from 2018 to 2020, total U.S. assets under management using ESG strategies increased 42 percent.

Forward-thinking companies are clearly moving beyond the perception of ESG as a “necessary evil” to embrace its potential for improving their organizations — expanding their focus to include not only the interests of shareholders but also of stakeholders in a much broader universe.

We’re in an ongoing conversation with Alexandra Morehouse, a mission-driven collaborator and experienced board member who has deep experience in ESG strategies.

Alexandra, although the momentum for ESG initiatives is growing, we still see companies reluctant to get onboard. What is your vision for how ESG can improve our future, and how do you work with(in) companies to find opportunities to thrive?

“With challenge comes opportunity. ESG poses additional risks and demands, yet it also offers avenues for growth. For example, ESG opens new doors for engagement with internal and external stakeholders, from employees and customers to investors, shareholders, business partners, and regulators.

“ESG reporting can be an opportunity for companies to showcase their vision and mission through the lens of ESG, enhance their value proposition, and demonstrate the concrete actions they’re taking toward positive environmental, social, and governance change.

“Since all board committees will be touched in some way by ESG, it’s an opportunity to reexamine committee structures, to rewrite existing committee charters or to create new ones. It’s also an opportunity to revisit executive compensation and incentives to include performance in key ESG metrics and motivate behavior to achieve ESG goals. One small, but meaningful, change, is that some compensation committees are renaming and re-chartering themselves “compensation and human capital.”

“Finally, ESG is an opportunity to integrate new information technologies that will enable transparency of data on ESG indicators, such as metrics on environmental impacts and commitments to workplace diversity and inclusion.

“At its core, an investment in ESG is an opportunity not only to reduce negative impacts on the environment and enhance social equity but also to transform culture, strengthen brand loyalty, and — ultimately — create a better world.

“A simple example is Banner Health’s outreach to the Hispanic community. This has been a great example of doing well by doing good; once we put full Spanish-language website and customer service capabilities into place, we were able to grow our revenues significantly with that population. Banner Health was also awarded the 2022 national “Cultural Relevance” award by the Association of National Advertisers. This same outreach has also enabled us to be an employer of choice, by signaling our inclusion of the Hispanic community.”

We are grateful for your inspiring vision, Alexandra.

More about Alexandra: Alexandra Morehouse is a mission-driven collaborator and seasoned board member, with deep experience in governance, risk management, and digital transformation. She currently serves as the chief digital officer and chief marketing officer for Banner Health and is a national thought leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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