esg2go rating and reporting standard for SMEs. Open, systematic, effective.

Although sustainability is just as important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), reliable reporting standards have been lacking up to now. The new esg2go sustainability assessment system is designed to remedy this situation, however. The aim is for the benchmark-based rating and reporting system to become the sustainability standard in Switzerland, thereby saving participating companies time and enabling them to capture new markets.

Philipp Aerni, you're the Director of the CCRS. What's sustainability, and how is it measured?

Philipp Aerni: Although there are currently a large number of sustainability assessment systems for companies available, many of them are exclusively qualitative and only partially cover sustainability performance. In addition, new and different reporting requirements are constantly being placed on SMEs. Supported by renowned partners such as Credit Suisse, UBS, and Zurich Group, esg2go gives SMEs the opportunity to make their sustainability performance measurable and comparable on a standardized basis. Ratings are based on a weighted, dynamic benchmarking system, with automatic verification of entries and multi-faceted reporting templates. After the data is entered, an automated sustainability report containing differentiated scores is produced for E (environment), S (social), and G (governance) criteria. The scores show the strengths and weaknesses of each SME's sustainability performance.

Philipp Aerni is Director of the Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CCRS) at the School of Management Fribourg (HES-SO). He received his Masters Degree in Geography (with Minors in Environmental Science and Economics) from the University of Zurich and his PhD in Agricultural Economics from ETH Zürich. Prior to his position at CCRS, Dr. Aerni worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Institute for Environmental Decisions at ETH Zurich, the World Trade Institute at the University of Berne as well as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Philipp Aerni is also a senior lecturer at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. Among numerous other engagements, he is a member of the Jury of the Swiss Family Business Award, the Forum Genetic Research (SCNAT), and Liberethica (a Platform on ethics, business and religion). As an interdisciplinary social scientist he is interested in the role entrepreneurship and innovation as potential driving forces for inclusive and sustainable change.


And where do you stand in terms of development?

The rating platform is currently in the test phase, and SMEs have the opportunity to test the beta version free of charge until February 19, 2022. When entering data, participants can count on active support in complying with data privacy. The amounts and information recorded will help in terms of delivering further improvements in calculations as well as in estimates of industrial and company size-specific benchmarks.


SMEs will receive an in-depth insight into their sustainability. Once the calculations and benchmarks have been reviewed and adjusted at the end of the test phase, they will receive an initial report on their strengths and the potential for improvement. Participating SMEs will also benefit from an individual discussion of the results. At a later date, it is anticipated that professional sustainability advisors will handle the discussions with SMEs and also support them throughout the process.


What are the next steps?

Discussions about distributor activities involving the participating professionals are already taking place with individual companies and industry associations. esg2go is not a proprietary rating system, it's an open, integrated rating and reporting system. Our aim is for the standard to be adopted by positive partners with a pragmatic, feasibility-oriented approach. Credit Suisse, UBS, and Zurich have taken the first step toward partnership. Environment professionals and their associations, as promoters, as well as official bodies and NGOs, are set to follow.


Finally, the participating companies are also actively helping to make the sustainability report simpler and more effective for small and medium-sized enterprises. Indeed, a place is reserved for them on our website's Hall of Fame. The aim is to establish a universally recognized Swiss standard that is accepted by all companies.


And how does that benefit me as an entrepreneur?

esg2go was initially developed in collaboration with SMEs. They made it clear to us that their sustainability performance likewise needs to be respected. In addition to standard sectoral benchmarking ("footprint"), the esg2go rating gives an SME the option of indicating the extent to which its core business also contributes to sustainability ("handprint"). This enables it to improve its rating result ("score").


As a social scientist with an entrepreneurial mindset, I know about the importance of time and multiple usage. esg2go not only provides an accurate rating without greenwashing, but also significantly lowers transaction costs for SMEs through reports that can be used multiple times ("once-only principle"). It is designed to serve as a sustainability report for important key clients in Switzerland and ensure that clients abroad that are geared toward a different sustainability assessment system can quickly be given the additional information. This enables participating SMEs to capture new markets they would not otherwise be able to access, thus creating a return on the investment.

Sustainability from the entrepreneur's point of view

SMEs are likewise important for sustainability, although reliable reporting has been lacking up to now. Without going to unreasonable lengths, it has been difficult for SMEs to report their sustainability footprint – that is, their environmental impact ("E"), social contribution ("S"), and quality of corporate governance ("G"). To remedy the situation and illustrate the active contribution ("handprint") made by SMEs in precise terms, i.e. without greenwashing, the CCRS institute has developed the esg2go rating and reporting standard ( Credit Suisse has actively partnered the project from the outset. As a standard that can be used multiple times, the score will save time and enable SMEs to capture new markets based on various reports



The beta version can be tested on the following website: