ESG and the Role of Storytelling

August 23, 2023 by Sarah Tesla

Merely adopting environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies is not enough; effective communication must play a pivotal role in ensuring successful implementation and impact. At our Sustainability Summit in Ecuador, attendees from across the Lundin Group participated in a roundtable discussion that provided solutions to effective ESG storytelling.

As ESG issues continue to gain prominence, resource companies worldwide recognize the importance of integrating sustainable practices into their operations. Whether within the corporate environment or at site, rolling out ESG strategies that reach sustainability targets and create a sense of purpose and meaning for employees is critical to long-term success.

It’s not enough to communicate facts and numbers, although that is necessary to create transparency. Sharing the human impact of the data through compelling storytelling is a critical tool to contextualize ESG performance data. 

At the Summit, there was an acknowledgement that storytelling can be a powerful way to increase employee engagement and foster a sense of belonging, purpose, and motivation around ESG. By weaving narratives that connect individuals to an organization’s mission, values, and ESG strategies there are some key considerations for storytelling strategies that may help create more successful engagement. 

The Summit’s “Six Steps to ESG Storytelling Success” are: 

  • Creating Emotional Connections 
  • Making ESG Strategies Relatable 
  • Building a Sense of Community 
  • Driving Cultural Alignment 
  • Encouraging Knowledge Sharing and Learning

Creating Emotional Connections 

Storytelling has a unique ability to evoke emotions and create meaningful connections. By sharing stories highlighting the positive impact of ESG initiatives, companies can connect to an employee’s sense of purpose and values, which can help to instill a feeling of pride and purpose in their work. How people feel about the work they do day-to-day matters a great deal. Personal narratives, anecdotes, and success stories can inspire employees by showcasing how their efforts contribute to a larger, positive societal or environmental change. In addition, these emotional connections foster a sense of ownership and dedication, driving higher levels of engagement and commitment when new strategic initiatives are introduced. 

Making ESG Strategies Relatable 

ESG strategies can often seem abstract, overly technical or distant to employees not directly involved in their implementation. Storytelling bridges this gap by making ESG principles relatable and relevant to employees’ everyday experiences. Through compelling narratives, companies can illustrate how ESG practices align with their values, impact the lives of individuals or communities, or contribute to solving real-world challenges. By providing relatable context, storytelling can help employees connect the dots between their daily work and the organization’s broader ESG objectives, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the significance of their contributions. 


Building a Sense of Community 

Storytelling can also foster a sense of community and shared purpose. By sharing stories of teamwork, collaboration, and the collective efforts behind ESG successes, companies create a sense of camaraderie and unity among employees. These narratives highlight the interdependencies and synergies within teams, departments, and the company as a whole, emphasizing the value of collaboration and reinforcing a shared commitment to ESG principles. Engagement and motivation soar when employees feel connected to a larger community working towards a common goal.   

Driving Cultural Alignment 

Storytelling serves as a powerful vehicle for transmitting and reinforcing an organization’s culture and values. By embedding ESG principles into stories that reflect the organization’s culture, companies can promote cultural alignment and inspire employees to embody those values in their daily work. For example, stories that exemplify ethical behaviour, responsible decision-making, and social or environmental consciousness serve as guiding narratives that shape employees’ attitudes and behaviours, creating a cohesive organizational culture centred around ESG principles. 

Encouraging Knowledge Sharing and Learning 

Stories also provide a platform for knowledge sharing and learning. Employees can learn from the experiences, challenges, and successes shared in stories, enabling them to gain insights, acquire new skills, and improve their work practices. Storytelling facilitates the transfer of tacit knowledge, enabling employees to tap into the collective wisdom of their colleagues. Organizations that promote continuous learning, growth, and engagement can foster a culture of growth. 

One Step at a Time 

Storytelling can be a powerful tool that can help to increase employee engagement and alignment with ESG strategies. But it is important to experiment with various channels, such as social media platforms, public forums, and dialogues, to actively engage with teams throughout the organization. By making ESG principles relatable, fostering a sense of community, driving cultural alignment, and encouraging knowledge sharing, storytelling has the potential to bring ESG initiatives to life, empowering employees to champion change throughout the organization.