Industry Insights

Experiential learning could be the key to your ESG transformation

Posted by John Wills on May 24, 2023 2:23:08 PM

Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is a framework used by organizations to evaluate and manage the impact of their operations and processes. It is well recognized that a focus on ESG issues is becoming an indispensable element of business success. But it can be hard to know how and where to begin when it comes to integrating ESG within an organization.

Experiential learning using business simulations specifically designed to help with ESG transformation can be the key to successfully navigating these issues. But how? In this guide, we’ll examine the links between the skills taught through experiential learning and business simulations, and the challenges of ESG transformation. We will be guided by two experts in the field who regularly lead organizations through the learning process:

Denise Menefee is a Strategic Consultant for StratX Exl, with a specific focus on leadership and development, sustainability and diversity. She has over 20 years’ experience working with international brands including PepsiCo, Applebee’s and Diageo, as well as over 10 years’ experience consulting for Fortune 50 companies, start-ups and non-profits.

Philippe Latapie is Managing Director at StratX Exl. He has over 20 years’ experience in working with international brands and Fortune 500 companies, helping high-potential employees to become the next generation of leaders in their organizations, fostering cross-functional skills through the “Experience together, reflect and learn, apply-on-the-job” approach.

Overcoming disruption in the workplace and in the world with a tailored approach

“To be a successful company right now, you’re probably being challenged by some of these disruptions, so adopting a more sustainable mindset and adopting ESG criteria for how you’re going to measure that can help you be successful.” - Denise Menefee.

ESG is about practices that can be put in place in your organization to achieve higher levels of sustainability. Therefore, the best place to begin thinking about ESG is with a focus on those internal processes.

There is now an undeniable business case for ESG transformation. The climate emergency, for example, has gone from being perceived as a distant the largely hypothetical threat, to being a reality in the here and now. This means that sustainability has a very real impact on business operations, and as a consequence, investors demand that organizations have serious strategies in place to improve sustainability.

Having ESG criteria makes such efforts immediately measurable. Potential investors, regulators, and the public are able to tell the difference between organizations that merely talk about focusing on ESG, and those that take meaningful action. And those organizations that fail to take meaningful action risk being left behind by better-performing competitors.

Experiential learning is the best way to help employees understand the ESG initiative within their organization, embed behaviors and ensure that lessons learned are turned into the changes in behavior required to meet ESG goals at every level of the organization.

Getting ready for organizational transformation

“Experiential learning is a process; it’s a way for greater engagement, clarity and retention of information, it’s learning by doing. It’s a safe space to do that regardless of the subject matter. But with sustainability, it’s a highly complex subject matter that really needs experimentation, so you can discover which decisions have which impact on the bottom line.” – Philippe Latapie

Creating an organization that is prepared for an ESG focused future can require major changes to processes, governance structures and even the organization’s culture itself. Such big changes are challenging by definition.

Business simulations allow employees to understand highly complex scenarios and test out different approaches without risk to the organization.

Bridging the gap between words and actions

While it’s increasingly hard to find business leaders who don’t know how to talk the talk on the importance of ESG transformation, a PwC survey from 2021 indicated that only 28% of executives stood out as advocates for advancing ESG agendas.

Corporate sponsored training initiatives including experiential learning are uniquely suited to helping leaders and employees who want to do the right thing for their organization by taking the next steps. The scenarios that participants will encounter in workplace simulations as part of an experiential learning program are highly realistic. Working as a team, participants get to see the outcomes of their decisions in each scenario and test out the efficacy of different approaches.

But, more importantly, experiential learning programs extend beyond the classroom and enable participants to apply their learnings and newly acquired skills on the job, accelerating organizational transformation and promoting the adoption of practices that improve equity, sustainability, agility and collaboration in their organizations.

Building a team around ESG

Experiential learning programs are ideal for helping your organization to build an engaged, diverse, cross functional team. This type of team aligns with the social goals of an ESG agenda, including greater equity and a healthier work-life balance. Moreover, cross-functional, diverse teams are more likely to be open to the challenges of business transformation, being more agile, more innovative and more open to change.

Starting your experiential learning journey

StratX Exl delivers experiential learning journeys that lead to lasting business impact by designing bespoke programs taking into account your organization’s objectives, desired outcomes, time constraints and technical capabilities. This can include remote programs, residential programs and hybrid approaches.

Business simulations are at the core of this approach, but feedback from peers and trainers and from applying newly acquired knowledge on-the-job are also essential. To discover how we can help you prepare for ESG transformation, contact us today.

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