ESG on the earnings call: Getting senior management involved
‘I find that if your earnings call just speaks to your financials, you’re not going to have too much participation from the investor community,’ says Brian Dingerdissen of Essential Utilities, talking post-call evaluations.
‘We try to have a guest member of management on our calls. For example, we include our chief operating officer once or twice a year to give him some exposure to investors and provide a deeper dive into how a utility works, or a specific change in a regulatory environment related to compliance.’
This article is an extract from the recently published Best Practice Report – How to add ESG talking points to your earnings call, sponsored by Notified. Click here to download your copy now for information on how the ESG narrative has evolved since the Covid-19 pandemic, why deeper ESG disclosure is now expected by investors, and more.
Once you are under way with including ESG talking points in your earnings call, there are several extra considerations to help refine your approach and ensure it will serve your company well through to a mature stage.
One of the key ways to engage different quadrants of your investment community is by actively encouraging questions or suggested talking points in advance (via the website or other communication channels). Even unanswered questions can provide valuable data points from your stakeholder audience.
Following up with post-earnings questionnaires is standard practice at many organizations, so consider adding specific ESG topics to this. And do not neglect one of your most important stakeholder groups: corporate management. Make sure you evaluate what it cares about and ensure your IR function gets credit for everything it is doing.
Monitoring what the markets are saying and thinking about your firm is another crucial part of the refinement process. Observing traditional media is important – picking up on analyst notes and written reports on how your company is perceived – but social media can be a more revealing snapshot about which issues are considered important.
In addition, a robust analysis of how other companies in your sector, industry and locale are including ESG topics in earnings calls can give you some crucial points of comparison or indications of what the market may be expecting of you.
As Dingerdissen points out, Essential Utilities, like many companies, brings in different members of the C-suite to the earnings call to highlight certain aspects of a company’s performance, provide extra context or answer questions from investors. For communication around ESG issues, the same is often a good starting point, but adding more specific management to communicate around a particular issue can be a great way to add focus.