In this case study, we hear from one Kreston Global member firm on how they worked with a client to become certified for ISO standards covering ESG issues

Our client was a group of information technology companies with headquarters in a European country and locations in 14 other countries. The company is a listed entity on the country’s Stock Exchange, as well as a member of the FTSE and FTSE-Med indices. With more than 800 employees, it has been reporting on CSR, sustainability and ESG since 2017, and is also subject to the NFRD – it will be one of the first companies in this country to need to report under the CSRD.  

We worked with the client in 2022 to conduct a gap analysis in line with the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility, across its distribution of technology services, business consulting services and business software and IT infrastructure solutions divisions, excluding its investments holding division. We then undertook a materiality assessment for the company, by engaging with all its stakeholders across the business to develop a materiality matrix. The material issues identified for 2021 were the top four most important issues for both internal and external stakeholders. These were organisational governance, human rights, labour practices and the environment. Finally we developed a sustainability strategy with actions and KPIs for each material issue for the company, and supported the company to develop its sustainability report in line with ISO 26000, the GRI core option and the UN SDGs. 

The client has taken many environmental actions so far. These range from becoming certified for ISO 140001 on environmental management systems, to optimising its electricity and fuel consumption across its commercial and public facilities and to measuring its greenhouse gas emissions from Scope 1, 2 and 3. The company is offering sustainability benefits as part of its solutions services and is using environmental and social procurement criteria for suppliers and business associates.  

The environmental criteria cover materials used in production and packaging, recycling, the use of renewable sources of energy and compliance with the ROHS Directive. They have also established actions and environmental KPIs for all Group companies, including subsidiaries, to reduce the Group’s environmental impacts and carbon footprint, and are a founding member of a number of extended producer responsibility (EPR) organisations for responsible waste management.  

They have also taken other ESG-related actions, such as becoming certified for ISO 26000 on social responsibility; ISO 37001 on anti-bribery management systems; and ISO 9001:2015 on quality management systems. It sets an annual sustainability budget at Group level to cover its related activities and required all staff to complete a sustainability e-learning course. In 2022 we supported the company to conduct its first human rights due diligence exercise for its HQ and Middle East offices, and we will roll this initiative out to more Group locations from 2023 onwards.

Our client has also assessed the Group’s performance on responsible political involvement and has taken numerous corporate philanthropy actions, including sponsoring their country marathon, donating to various charities and offering awards at Universities, as well as merit scholarship programmes. The company’s policies and guidance on ESG-related topics range from Equality and Diversity, Disclosure (Whistle- Blowing), Disciplinary and Grievance, Anti- Harassment, and Anti-Bribery and Corruption, to Quality and Environmental Impacts, Data and Employee Privacy, Ethics and Compliance and various comprehensive staff policies.