11 “words of wisdom” for those working in ESG

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Here’s some great stuff from Nawar Alsaadi:

Here are some words of advice for those working or thinking of working in the ESG space:

1. No one has all the answers. The ESG field is evolving quickly, and many problems are still searching for an answer. Don’t feel inadequate if you don’t know the answer to a given issue, and don’t take every answer given to you as gospel.

2. Working in the ESG space means you will be flooded by information from every direction. Not every piece of data matters, it is ok to overlook certain sustainability related developments if they are peripheral to your area of focus. (if you don’t have a focus area such an asset class or a specific ESG dimension you might be doing too much).

3. You are going to meet three kind of people: those who are indifferent to what you are doing, those who are strongly supportive, and those who are strongly against. They all have their reasons, make sure to listen and understand where they are coming from. Don’t fully shut out those who are against you, and don’t seek confirmation only from those who support you.

4. Integrating ESG in an investment setting require significant amount of critical thinking. Don’t approach ESG challenges with a cookie cutter mindset. Question everything and examine everything from both a business and sustainability angle.

5. Don’t nod and feign to understand if asked to proceed in a certain way. Ask questions, have the courage to say: ‘I am sorry, but this makes no sense to me, could you please explain?’

6. Keep learning, there is a ton of ESG courses and certifications out there. Take the time to do some of them even if you have been working in the field for a long time. Don’t let the complacency of experience blind you to the value of new innovations.

7. Working in ESG/sustainability doesn’t make you a saint. You are subject to the same biases and mental pitfalls as everyone else. Understand your own limitations, be clear as to your true motivations.

8. Greenwashing is omnipresent within many organizations. Don’t be swayed by the allure of going with the tide because this is what is expected of you. Speak up, push back, and change jobs if you have to. Never trade your principles for convenience.

9. Working in ESG could be extremely tedious. When the work load gets too heavy remember why you have chosen to work in the space and what you are trying to accomplish. Remember this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche. “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

10. Don’t undersell yourself. Knowing that you have a purpose some entities will try to exploit you. As long as you are working in a for a profit entity make sure that you are fully and equitably compensated for your work.

11. Try to embody the values and principles you believe in as an ESG professional in your own life. The narrower the gap between your values and your life, the happier you will be.