EP#228 ~ Environmental, Social, Governance. How can policy makers reduce the burden of ESG reporting on small businesses?

| Tuesday April 9

Small Biz Matters: People, Policy, Purpose ~ Episode #228
Broadcast date: 9 April 2024
Host: Alexi Boyd, Small Business Advocate & Policy Advisor
Guest: Dr Stephen Morse, ESG Strategist & Founder Unchained & Serena Stewart Head of Strategic Partnerships, Business/Law School at UTS

If you asked a small business owner if they had processes which showed consideration, fairness and equality when hiring new staff, that they were making considerable effort to reduce their impact on the environment and be more sustainable, and had all their paperwork up to date with ASIC; the vast majority would say yes, they were working on all of that or had it nailed. But if you said to the same small business person: Are you meeting your ESG reporting requirements they would probably look at you quick blankly and ask what that stands for.

Yet another reporting requirement, is what it stands for. Something small businesses are not ready for, is what it stands for. But what it IS, is the reality coming down the pipeline. Yet many small businesses owners are unaware of the impact of ESG reporting requirements, what and when they need to take action and how it will change their business significantly if they’re not ready.

Luckily, we’ve got Dr Stephen Morse on the Small Biz Matters again. You’ll remember him from a few years ago when he came onto our radio show to talk about another set of requirements : Anti-Slavery reporting requirements. He’s joining us once again to support small businesses to understand what they need to do and where to get help. Plus,

Serena Stewart from UTS will be jumping in to tell us all about the ESG survey they are developing and they’re asking for your help to make policy better!

PEOPLE –  Tell us about your journey and how you became so passionate about helping small businesses to navigate regulation like ESG and anti-slavery requirements. What sort of small business people are the most vulnerable if they don’t start planning out how ESG will affect their business? Are you concerned that small businesses will be left with another overly-onerous reporting regime they don’t understand? What is working elsewhere in the world?

POLICY - Is the solution for ESG additional regulation really just reg-tech or do you think the Government needs to consider small businesses at the co-design phase? Which is more efficient: Should we be designing ESG reporting methods around different segments of small businesses or allow big business to dictate what they need to see from their supply chain

PURPOSE -  What exactly is ESG and why do small business people need to be aware of it and starting to plan NOW for the changes coming? Where is a good place to start? Will it be mandatory? How can we make it as easy as possible for small businesses to report and what do you think the Government needs to do now in its policy settings to support the transition?

Dr Stephen Morse is CEO of Unchained Solutions Pty Ltd, a Sydney-based facilitation and advisory firm that enables organisations to make a meaningful contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and improve their ESG reporting and CSR commitments. Unchained’s solutions are designed to help local and global teams to thrive. Stephen has over 25 years’ experience in entrepreneurial leadership in the not-for-profit and private sectors, both in Australia and overseas. He’s a seasoned public speaker, thought leader and strategist who brings an engaging and refreshing perspective on business and human rights due diligence in supply chains. Stephen obtained his Doctorate in Human Trafficking Intervention through Fuller Theological Seminary in 2016, and MBA through University of Technology Sydney in 2020. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Freedom Business Alliance. He also Chairs the Ethics Committee of the Australasian Supply Chain Institute and the Communications & Capacity Building Working Group of the Commonwealth 8.7 Network.

To find out more go to: https://unchainedsolutions.com.au

Serena is currently the Head of Strategic Partnerships for the UTS Business School and UTS Faculty of Law. She has 15 years’ experience in new business and program development management with a strong focus on strategising, developing, planning, implementing, and managing multifaceted programs with industry, government and community (domestically and internationally) to support multidisciplinary research projects and enterprise learning activities (I.e., funding, resourcing and advocacy).

She has built an extensive network across multiple sectors, comprising of senior executives, high net worth individuals, government, and leading corporate organisations and demonstrated the capacity to raise revenue from multiple channels (primarily industry and philanthropy), generating approximately $205M, with the funds supporting major capital infrastructure projects, research and education.