Sustainability and ESG – Not Just a Duty for Companies, but a Valuable Opportunity

April 02, 2024

With the advent of new European Union requirements, terms like "sustainability" and "ESG" (environmental, social, and governance) have become part of the daily vernacular for entrepreneurs in recent years. For companies, this entails certain obligations, including assessing their impact on the environment and actively reducing it, as well as planning their business development sustainably. Some companies are already actively working in this direction, but for those who are still grappling with the new regulations, it's worth viewing them not as a burdensome duty but as an opportunity for business development, suggests Inga Preimane, board member and sustainability manager of the general sponsor of Lielā Talka, BluOr Bank.

The new framework embodies many of the already familiar principles of good and wise company management: while measuring impact on the environment and actively reducing it may require specific knowledge and more time, other aspects of the new requirements are well-known – care for one's employees, their well-being, education, and adherence to principles of responsible business management and ethics.

"Actually, this is a real opportunity for every company to create a favorable environment for its operation, to attract and retain talented employees, to improve their well-being, and in the long term, to optimize costs and reduce negative impact on the environment. This can be done in many different ways, including planning office daily life in a more eco-friendly manner and implementing other initiatives that align with the company's activities and essence. For example, one of such initiatives in our company is also the support for the organization and conduct of Lielā Talka," explains I. Preimane.

How to Integrate Sustainability Issues into Company Daily Life?

BluOr Bank develops its sustainability policy on two levels – as a company and as a "green loans" financier, explains Inga Preimane. The bank encourages other companies to think about sustainability issues through its lending policy, offering better lending conditions for loans aimed at sustainability. Meanwhile, as a company, the bank itself looks for ways to reduce its own impact on the environment, take care of its employees, and contribute to society.

The bank has embarked on various initiatives to promote sustainability and the integration of ESG standards within its own corporate environment. For example, one of them is the joint collection and recycling of beverage container packaging. The funds obtained are converted into food baskets for families with children with special needs, thereby simultaneously promoting both environmental protection and social responsibility. The initiative has also received a great response from the bank's employees, who often bring packaging to the bank from their homes as well.

To contribute to the improvement of the urban environment, the company landscaped a recreation area on Lucavsala in 2017 – a previously neglected territory is now organized, with benches installed, sakuras blooming in spring, and a diversity of trees and shrubs delighting in summer. Moreover, BluOr Bank ensures that this is not just a one-time investment: the company continues to maintain and improve this area every year. The landscaping of the Lucavsala recreation area in 2017 was recognized as the most sustainable project in Latvia and also received a sustainability award from the "Building Design and Construction Council" (BDCC).

The company has also completely abandoned the use of disposable dishes not only in daily office life but also in employee team-building events in nature. The bank strives to reduce the use of disposable plastics in other ways as well, for example, by providing employees with the option of filling reusable bottles with carbonated or still water. Given that the bank has more than 200 employees, even such small steps and initiatives are significant, believes Inga Preimane.

"There are many eco-friendly initiatives! The most important thing is to keep these goals and principles in mind in daily work and planning. For example, producing promotional and representative materials from recycled materials, reducing the consumption of printed materials in favor of circulating information in digital format, jointly collecting and delivering wastepaper to 'Ulubele,' where it is sent for recycling, thus also providing a small financial support to the shelter. This simply means looking at your daily office life from a different perspective and looking for ways to save resources or share them with others for whom they may be useful," explains I. Preimane.

The Benefit – Satisfied and Motivated Employees

Employees actively respond to these measures and are supportive of the bank's initiatives for the environment. They appreciate the opportunity to participate in the processes and feel like part of the larger common goal of promoting sustainability, believes I. Preimane. The bank's initiatives not only improve the working climate but also create emotional satisfaction and a sense of cohesion in the team. For example, after joint outings with families, employees are inspired and even more ready for creative collaboration in work processes.

"We are convinced that participation in this year's Lielā Talka will also bring emotional satisfaction and a sense of positivity to our team. Ultimately, it's important to also look at sustainability and ESG from a human perspective: these are happier employees, a clean environment for ourselves, our children, and grandchildren, who will not live in a world polluted with plastic and other waste, clean air, and a better quality of life for all of us," says Inga Preimane, board member and sustainability manager of the general sponsor of Lielā talka, BluOr Bank.