Your project management office (PMO) should be focussing on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues as part of its strategy. There are proven reasons why ESG will benefit your office, so you need to follow our five steps to embed ESG into your projects.

Businesses can get accused of green-washing their work and purely paying lip service to being a better, sustainable corporate citizen. Your PMO can avoid this by working to bring ESG into all elements of projects and making it a core requirement.

Here are five steps to take to make sure that projects live and breathe ESG and support your business goals.

1.      Understand the wider corporate ESG priorities

You can expect most businesses nowadays to have an ESG statement and strategy. Indeed, you may be looking for information about ESG because your C-suite has begun to focus on it.

Your PMO needs to align with what the business sees as being good and valuable ESG policy. Depending on your industry and sector, one of the three elements might be more necessary to focus on, e.g. construction businesses may want to work on environmental issues while an advertising agency may be looking to have better governance.

What you take into your PMO and projects as an ESG strategy needs to filter into what the business expects from business areas.

2.      Adopt a sustainability or ESG checklist

Once you know what the business wants to focus on, you need to look at how ESG will affect the wider picture of your PMO. For this, you can adopt a high-level ESG Checklist.

This can act as a guide for your PMO team when assessing projects. Project managers can also use it to signpost their activities and make sure they are asking the right questions of their project.

Use this checklist to hold projects accountable and to direct ESG activities at a more micro-level. The questions asked can help you plan deeper embedding of ESG and show your project managers where to be looking for improvements.

3.      Review all processes and procedures

After dealing with the big picture, you need to drill down into every element of a project to check ESG is understood and embedded. This will be a big piece of work but will pay off with long-term cost reductions and an improved business bottom line.

The ESG review will need to encompass everything your PMO works on, such as the project framework, processes, documentation, and scheduling. You will need to have your team ensure that ESG priorities are a part of:

  • Risk management
  • Procurement
  • Scheduling
  • Decision-making
  • Time management
  • Stakeholder conversations

This dedication to getting ESG into every step of a project will pay dividends if a potential client or investor, for example, wants to see real acknowledgement and commitment to the issues.

4.      Review project and PMO KPIs for ESG considerations

Now you have projects fully aware of ESG goals and set up to work with them. The next step is to build-in accountability by looking at your project KPIs.

We will look at this issue in the next blog in our series about ESG in project management.

Having targets centred on ESG is vital to ensure that everyone lives and breathes the values you want to instil. It also gives measurable and reportable outcomes for your reporting to the C-suite.

5.      Set up regular ESG reporting

We’ve just touched on ESG reporting for the C-suite, but you need to make sure you get buy-in from the ground up. You need to plan to be talking about how changing processes and procedures to take ESG into account are impacting on projects.

You can communicate this to project teams in a weekly review or round-up of timely wins and follow this up with more detail on a monthly basis. Whenever a project is wrapped up and reviewed, you should ensure ESG is a part of that and communicated.

Discuss with your PMO sponsor how regularly the board will want to see your ESG results as well.

Embedding ESG into projects

It’s important that ESG isn’t just a passing phase or buzzword used in your PMO for a few months before mobbing onto something new. By following our five steps to embedding ESG into projects, you will ensure long-term focus on the issues.