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

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.

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.