'Commit to Data Collection, Even if it Makes You Look Bad'

Morningstar sustainability reporting lead Charity Blue joins Valerio Baselli at our recent Sustainability Investing Summit to talk data, impact, and progress

Valerio Baselli 19 October, 2023 | 4:53AM
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Valerio Baselli: Corporate sustainability is now part of the core business strategy of a company, or at least it should be. We are at the Morningstar Sustainability Investing Summit in Amsterdam, and I'm joined now by Charity Blue, Morningstar's Sustainability Reporting Lead.

So, Charity, this is an event dedicated to institutionals and the corporate world. Do you have any tips or best practice for corporate sustainability professionals?

Charity Blue: Absolutely. So, there's three things that I would highlight for corporate sustainability professionals. The first is, it's really important to focus on upskilling your organisation's sustainability, and ESG is still a relatively new aspect of strategy within organisations, so making sure that you're continuously educating your partners that need to be along this journey with you. The next piece would be embracing transparency, so focusing on making sure that you're disclosing high-quality data, even if it doesn't make your firm always look the best, because it's important to showcase to investors, as well as your other stakeholders where you're at in the process across your material sustainability issues. And the last one I would highlight is committing to the areas where you can have the largest impact on society, so figuring out based on your industry, what your corporation is focused on, where you're able to have a large impact, and really strategising to improve your progress in those specific areas.

VB: Perfect. And being in the financial services industry, what do you think is the most important issue to prioritise as a sustainability leader?

CB: Yeah. So, I think climate right now is something that every firm, regardless of industry, needs to be tackling, because it takes a whole economic transition to make these global outcomes we need successful. So, I would say climate is definitely a priority for us. We also are really focused on our human capital efforts, so making sure that we're driving diversity practices, employee engagement, and continuously communicating with employees to understand the emerging needs in that area. And the last one I would highlight is the importance of data and information security. So, as a technology and financial services company, making sure that we're protecting our client and employee information, especially with the changes happening with AI and other phishing attempts that can happen in society, that's really important to us.

VB: Absolutely. Finally, what are your top three sustainability priorities right now and why?

Blue: Yeah. So, like many firms, we're really focused on operationalising data collection, particularly in some of the more difficult areas like Scope 3, figuring out the best ways to quantify emissions in our supply chain, as well as our finance emissions is a really important priority for us, just so that we have the most accurate information to make decisions as possible. We're also focused on tracking progress in our key areas. So, for us, that includes climate and also, as I said before, diversity practices. So, figuring out if we're moving the needle in terms of growing in those areas and what we can be doing better to improve our programs. And the last piece would actually be education. So, we're really focused as Morningstar where the biggest impact we can have is on the sustainable marketplace by what we provide to investors. The language of ESG and sustainability is still relatively confusing. And there's a lot of jargon associated. So, we find it our responsibility to cut out the jargon and try to explain how investors can get involved in ESG in various ways.

VB: Charity, thank you so much. For Morningstar, Valerio Baselli. Thanks for watching.

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Valerio Baselli

Valerio Baselli  is Senior International Editor at Morningstar.

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