ESG Anarchy podcast episode
4 min

ESG Anarchy: A Catalyst For Corporate Change, Or Is It? (Podcast)

Posted by Picture of Paul Holland Paul Holland

For episode 3 of our Sense of Identity Podcast, we discussed the role of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) in driving corporate change with friends and experts in sustainability, politics, and business.

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Our guests for this episode were Andy Middleton, Simon Biltcliffe, and Graham Hooper who are all passionately working towards positive change in their own areas of expertise and in their businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • Gain insights into the gap between the perception and reality of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) initiatives in businesses.
  • Learn how sustainable and ethical investment decisions can significantly impact environmental outcomes, particularly in the pension and wealth sectors.
  • Understand the role of corporate governance in driving environmental change and the necessity for businesses to adopt more regenerative practices.

Interview Summary

Paul: Welcome, Simon, Andy, and Graham. Today we're discussing ESG Anarchy and its impact on corporate change. Let's delve into your experiences and insights on sustainability, ecology, and how it influences your respective regions - Cornwall for Graham, Wales for Andy, and Yorkshire for Simon.

Andy: ESG creates an illusion that businesses are doing better than they are in reality. Businesses need to look beyond this facade and address the true impact of their actions on climate and biodiversity. There's a disconnect between perceived and actual progress, especially in education and corporate governance.

Simon: We don't educate children on critical world matters like democracy, team collaboration, and environmental challenges. We measure success through a flawed capitalist lens, focusing on profit over social impact. This needs redefinition, considering future generations' wellbeing. Wales' Future Generation Law is a great example of forward-thinking legislation.

Graham: In the pension and wealth sector, some are walking the walk towards sustainability, particularly in long-term investment strategies. However, short-term performance pressures often hinder progress. Smaller companies can shift their models more easily compared to larger corporations like BlackRock, which face challenges in transforming their huge scale.

Andy: Changing pensions to ethical investments significantly impacts carbon footprints, far more than personal lifestyle changes. We need to start from the top of the investment chain for real impact.

Paul: How can we bridge the gaps in sustainable action across various sectors?

Graham: Education and incentivisation are key. It takes time to transition, especially in industries like printing. Regulatory changes are happening but not quickly enough. Examples like Dash Water and Dun Agro show that environmentally friendly and cost-effective solutions are gaining traction.

Simon: Businesses can be more human and kind than portrayed in media. Trust and openness can drive faster and more enjoyable progress. Simple, low-cost solutions exist for businesses to operate sustainably, but they require political will and legal mandates to scale effectively.

Andy: CEOs should be radically bold in their approach to sustainability. ESG is a temporary measure and lacks the framework for regenerative business practices. Real change involves creating businesses that restore climate and nature stability.

Graham: There's a growing movement in corporate voting against environmentally and socially harmful practices. Shareholder activism is becoming more prevalent, especially among younger demographics.

Paul: What advice would you give your younger selves in the context of sustainability and corporate responsibility?

Andy: Be more radical and bold from a young age.

Graham: Connect with your environment early and let it guide your life choices.

Simon: Trust your gut more and be open to sharing ideas. Realise that you have more choice than you think.

Paul: What's your final advice for business leaders looking to prioritize ESG?

Andy: Talk to their children for a fresh perspective and recognize the limitations of ESG. Consider innovative governance like adding nature and future generations as board advisers.

Simon: CEOs should understand that compliance will follow once the right rules are set. Use political engagement to drive large-scale changes and establish transparent, effective policies.


Simon Biltcliffe:

Simon Biltcliffe is an award winning CEO, international public speaker and business expert; widely acclaimed for his talks on his Marxist- capitalist business model, as well as talks on employee motivation and running a thriving organisation in the 21st century.

Andy Middleton:

Andy Middleton is an innovator and strategist for scaled-up sustainability change. He connects leaders to weave cross-sector projects that reconnect nature, enterprise and wellbeing with bold ambition to match the scale of challenge ahead.

Graham Hooper:

Graham Hooper is Business Development Director at Beyond Encryption with a diverse background in the financial services industry. He has over 30 years of experience in corporate governance, regulatory change, mergers and acquisitions, and distribution, and is a trustee of the Truro School Foundation and the Wave Project.

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Reviewed By:

Sam Kendall, 07.06.24

Sabrina McClune, 07.06.24


Originally posted on 09 12 22
Last updated on June 7, 2024

Posted by: Paul Holland

CEO and Founder of Beyond Encryption, Paul is an expert on digital identity, fintech, cyber security, and business. As a key driver behind the development of Webline, one of the UK’s most well-known comparison engines, Paul has vast experience in developing digital technologies and bringing them to market. Through Beyond Encryption’s Mailock, nigel and AssureScore solutions, he aims to make a positive impact by helping regulated businesses engage with customers while keeping their data secure.

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