Contributed by The Ashkin Group

Steve Ashkin, the professional cleaning industry's leading advocate for sustainability, predicts that in 2024, more ESG programs will be adopted by more jan/san companies around the globe. 

"Organizations in our industry realize the importance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues," says Ashkin.  “These are not just optional or peripheral matters, but essential aspects of doing business in today's world."

He adds that there are six specific reasons why ESG will become more prominent in 2024. These are:

1. ESG practices usually reduce costs. For example, 3M's 3Ps (Pollution Prevention Pays) program, launched in 1975, has saved the company around $3 billion.

2. Starting in 2024, the European Union (EU) will impose new requirements related to ESG, including more comprehensive reporting. Jansan companies doing business in Europe will be required to follow these new standards and will likely adopt these same reporting standards in their North American market.

3. More U.S. states are also moving forward on ESG reporting. On October 7, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed two new climate/ESG reporting bills into law. As in Europe, jansan companies doing business in California will be subject to these reporting requirements, which will be phased in by 2026.

4. ISSA's Sustainability Committee continues to grow. The initiative is designed to help all ISSA members in all sectors of professional cleaning implement sustainability, efficiency, social equity, and other related business strategies in their own organizations.

5. According to McKinsey Consulting, ESG can help companies reduce risk. ESG-focused companies are more resilient, recover faster after natural disasters, and are better equipped to mitigate hazards. 

6. The popularity of ESG-oriented investing is skyrocketing. ESG investing involves choosing companies or funds based on their environmental, social, and corporate governance performance. A recent report by Morningstar shows that ESG investing now exceeds $2.5 trillion, a 12 percent increase from 2021. 

"Because ESG efforts are a journey," says Ashkin, "we must expect some bumps along the way. But in the long term, ESG is on its way to playing a more influential role in almost all businesses in the future."

What Does the ESG Acronym Stand For? 

E: This refers to how businesses safeguard the environment, use natural resources more efficiently, and reduce their environmental footprint. 

S: Social responsibility refers to how a company interacts with stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, and communities, and involves respecting human rights, labor standards, diversity, and inclusion.

G: This is the governance dimension of ESG and involves how businesses are operated and controlled, follow the letter of the law, and ensure their regulatory compliance.