Can Marketing Save the Planet - Ep 50: Integrating ESG why it’s not a reporting challenge but a strategic challenge - with Professor Ioannis Ioannou

Published on: 2nd February, 2023

“The best companies look at their ESG disclosures as a type of social contract to tell the world, why they are here, what they are trying to achieve as a business, why the world is arguably a better place because they are here. ESG disclosure is an opportunity for an organisation to show how it is creating value - financial value and non-financial value.”

It was an absolute privilege to have some time talking all things ESG with Professor Ioannis Ioannou from London Business School. Ioannis through his work and research is a leading academic, consultant and leading expert around ESG integration.

As the title outlines, Ioannis explained why integrating ESG is not a reporting challenge but a strategic challenge. We kick off talking about changing demands, expectations, preferences of key stakeholders - employees, customers, social movements, activists, investors - the requirement for more accountability and transparency - and how these are all major disruptions for businesses.

“There is a global cost correction embedded in ESG - and it’s time to pay the bill”.

What’s clear is that the ESG journey and related organisational change is far from linear and simple. What were once thought of as challenges that governments were going to take care of have fast become core business issues. As businesses are getting to grips with how they organise themselves, there needs to be room for experimentation and vulnerability.

Ioannis tells us that… ‘It’s hard to identify an audience that wouldn’t care what you’re doing about ESG these days’ and talks about ESG being a catalyst in three critical areas:

  • Operational excellence - efficiencies
  • Strategic excellence - future proofing the organisation
  • Cultural excellence - aligning purpose, innovation, employee engagement

We talk about the importance of authentic communication and an interesting take on the ‘silver lining’ of greenwashing. And he’s clear that… “You cannot fake your way towards caring about the world.”

Gemma and I were keen to unpack ESG to get clarity about where we are with it right now, is it enough and where it’s heading. And of course, the role of communication - and how organisations bring their ESG to life to connect with key stakeholders in a meaningful way that connects and engages.

This is an informative and useful discussion and Ioannis shares his depth of knowledge and expertise and does an absolutely brilliant job of making an extremely complex and fast moving topic highly understandable and relatable.

ESG is very fast moving, with proposals on the table to mandate it - ESG rating and rankings are trying to capture a moving target”.

Since recording the ISSB have advised that sustainability reporting alongside financial reporting is likely to be mandatory in 2024. (Link below). And we’ve shared a number of links to articles that have chimed with us and helped us navigate our thinking.

It’s just filled with ESG gold - go listen.

For more about Ioannis Ioannou - you will find his LBS profile, his personal website and he’s also very active on Twitter:




Additional article links:







Enjoy and learn… yet again… we certainly did. #neverstoplearning

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The Marketing Society podcast
The Marketing Society is a progressive global community of senior marketers. Our purpose is to empower our members to be brave leaders. Since 1959, we have grown into an influential network of 2500 members.
The Marketing Society is a progressive global community of senior marketers. Our purpose is to empower our members to be brave leaders. Since 1959, we have grown into an influential network of more than 2650+ members across our global hubs: London, Scotland, Hong Kong, Singapore, UAE and New York. Our members are mostly senior clients (over seventy per cent) from brands such as ASOS, Barclays, IBM, Disney, HSBC, Mars, Samsung, Unilever and Vodafone.

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