ESG has the ‘S’ Factor

Amidst all the media focus on climate and environmental concerns, it is easy to overlook another important facet in sustainability – the ‘S’ of ESG. Unlike the Environmental dimension, social impacts are often subjective, and identifying what to measure is a key first step in quantifying a firm’s social impact on the community in which they operate. While social indicators such as diversity ratios, presence of human and labour rights policies, and workplace accident rates have been used by ESG data providers to quantify a company’s social impact, many other possible indicators of a company’s impact on the community still pass by under our radar due to a lack of awareness or understanding about how they can impact society.

One such unknown aspect that can greatly impact society is design. The design of a physical or virtual object or space is traditionally viewed as simply the aesthetic inclination of the designer. However, the design of objects and spaces defines how we interact and engage with our daily lives. At its heart, design is as much a social tool as it is an aesthetic one, where design choices that does not account for disabilities for instance is discriminatory and can be a source of lawsuits. More importantly beyond legal risks, we must be conscious about how we design our society to not only ensure that everyone in our community can participate equally, with comfort and dignity, but also to guide individuals towards more sustainable decisions for themselves and for society.

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