The latest research into hospitality sector leaders’ views on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues highlights multiple concerns around the implementation of ESG measures, as well as regional differences in priorities. Over 250 hospitality leaders across the world shared their thoughts on ESG issues as part of a major study conducted by King’s Business School and the Energy and Environment Alliance(EEA). The research has informed the development of an ESG Executive Education Hospitality Programme for the industry’s C-suite, which is now opening to its second cohort of participants.
Among the barriers to progress and investment identified by the research were, the proliferation of different reporting standards, other stakeholders’ scepticism and lack of engagement with ESG, Concerns over the reaction of guests and a lack of skills and knowledge both within the industry and among potential advisors.
One research participant reported: “It’s hard to measure and compare performance and assess value. This makes it complicated to align key stakeholders and to convince others with an appropriate calculation on payback”. 73% of leaders in the survey identified reporting and benchmarking as one of the top three areas that they would like ESG education for the hospitality sector c-suite to focus on.”
Others raised the issues of conflicting priorities among the industry’s stakeholders. According to one interviewee, “most hospitality brands are focused on guest satisfaction and dissatisfaction, not looking at sustainability.”
Many leaders were concerned at the quality of ESG advice available to them. “It’s sometimes difficult to find the right advisors who are knowledgeable and able to help companies think holistically, as opposed to focusing on a certain subject or on certifications or labels,” said one research participant.
The research also indicated regional differences in priorities, with European leaders emphasising energy related initiatives more than their peers in other regions.
Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the Energy and Environment Alliance,said, “Leaders in the sector are well aware of the urgency of ESG questions and are clear that a common approach to tackling and reporting on ESG issues will be a major driver of change. Building a rigorous understanding of the issues and potential solutions across the industry is a critical part of that change process.”
Marc Lepere, Head of ESG & Sustainability for Executive Education, Kings Business School adds: “The common theme of our research was the desire to cut through confusion and contradiction and develop an approach to ESG that works for the sector. We are delighted to be working with the EEA on a programme that starts with education and will ultimately result in better-informed and more focused conversation and collaboration within the sector and with regulators.”