Sustainability communication

Your expert for questions

Ilana Rolef-Heberling
Senior Manager, Head of Brand Transformation, Communications & DEI, Sustainability Services at PwC Germany
Tel: +49 175 120-8995
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Sustainable into the future: Ensuring business success with the right ESG communication strategy

Being a sustainable company means understanding your impact on the environment, society and corporate governance (ESG) and ensuring that the business model remains future-proof in these aspects. Today, consumers and investors evaluate companies based on ESG criteria and make their purchasing decisions accordingly. Companies are also subject to regulatory requirements which have to be communicated effectively both internally and externally. Sustainability communication also plays a significant role in building an employer brand: Young talents not only expect companies to express their views and take a stance on sustainability but also select their employers based on ESG criteria. Hence, a mature and authentic communication strategy is crucial in order to maintain credibility.

Together with you, we develop a customized strategic approach and seamlessly integrate ESG into your corporate positioning. We work closely with PwC experts at all levels of ESG to ensure comprehensive sustainability communications.

49%

of investors are considering disinvestment if companies do not take sufficient sustainability measures (PwC Global Investor ESG Survey)

72%

of companies with a high DEI maturity level have a (very) satisfied workforce, compared to only 37% of companies with a low maturity level (PwC DEI - How mature is retail?)

84%

of respondents stated that cultural change is essential for a successful ESG transformation (Strategy& research)

Viewpoint – Credible ESG communication

High ESG ambitions and performance can have positive effects on your company's public reputation and create a competitive advantage. However, it's important to remember that you need to keep your promises to remain credible. Compliance with regulations on reporting is a cornerstone of ESG communication, but there is much more to consider, e.g. strategic positioning. Read in our point of view about the key ESG communication challenges and how to implement a credible ESG communication strategy.
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How companies position themselves on sustainability and reach different target groups

Social change and extensive regulation are significant drivers for the sustainable orientation of companies. The resulting changes have a lasting impact on all stakeholders of a company. They need to be reflected in processes and organizations and ingrained in the mindset of employees. However, ESG should not be seen as a mere tool but rather as an attitude that must be lived holistically within the company and incorporated into the corporate strategy. Only then a company is able to authentically position itself regarding this topic.

Holistic sustainability communication addresses internal and external target groups that have individual informational requirements and varying levels of openness and attitude towards ESG.Therefore, tailoring communication activities and messages to specific target groups, as well as selecting appropriate communication channels, is crucial. Changes must be communicated sensitively, with a focus on dialog, and tailored to the needs of the target groups.

We provide assistance in comprehensive ESG positioning and sustainability communication, while involving your employees and customers in the journey of change.

Our services for the comprehensive integration of ESG into your marketing and communication strategy

Maturity analysis

Based on a maturity analysis, we assess the current status of your company’s positioning and communication regarding sustainability. This involves examining the entirety of your internal and external communication channels, past communication activities as well as your target audiences, to determine untapped potential. Identifying the maturity level of your company and your target groups builds the foundation for an optimized communication strategy.

Check of the marketing and communication approach

We examine your planned ESG marketing and communication approach by considering your positioning within the relevant competitive environment and conducting benchmarks. We analyze the expectations of your target audiences and anticipate possible reactions.

Strategic internal and external positioning

We support you in authentically and effectively positioning your company and brand on the topic of sustainability, ensuring long-term relevance. This includes not only refining your brand identity and vision but also addressing the perceived external impact of your company in various ESG areas. We assist you in developing an authentic and transparent communication strategy that aligns with your business practices.

360° marketing and communication campaign

Together with you, we plan and implement a 360° marketing and communication campaign in the context of sustainability. We establish guidelines for internal and external communication by developing a communication and marketing strategy with an overarching storyline. We assist in selecting appropriate communication channels and tailor the content to specific channels and target audiences.

Enablement workshops

We offer enablement workshops for your employees to ensure confident communication of sustainability topics. Employees play a crucial role in sustainability communication as they are a credible voice of the company, both internally and externally. To effectively and authentically communicate sustainability, we provide you with the right approaches and tools.

Inclusive communication as key to sustainable transformation

The social dimension in ESG represents a crucial factor for sustainable business success, yet it is often overlooked. Building diverse, equitable and inclusive companies strengthens the trust of both employees and customers, providing them with support, guidance and improving the chances of attracting and retaining highly skilled professionals.

But how do you leverage language as a tool for change in this regard?

Together, we can harness the potential of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) by, for example, developing a DEI vision that aligns with your existing corporate strategy. Elements of this vision may include ensuring inclusive language, dismantling biases and integrating diverse perspectives into projects and everyday work life.

Excerpts of our Case Studies

Conceptualization of various communication formats for sustainable energy supply

Challenge and situation

As part of the energy transition in Germany, the implementation of large-scale construction projects is necessary. Citizens are directly affected by these construction projects. To inform and educate about the goals of the energy transition and necessary initiatives, as well as to address concerns and uncertainties, it was important to develop a range of communication offerings and promote dialogue with citizens.

PwC approach

  • Strategic identification of the "silent majority," followed by target audience analysis and development of key messages 
  • Benchmarking and SWOT analysis of existing communication channels and new formats
  • Development of a narrative, storyline, and core messages
  • Design and implementation of a multichannel approach with closely aligned formats (website, app, social media, podcast, newsletter, etc.)

Result and impact

  • Increased acceptance of construction projects within the scope of the energy transition 
  • 450% increase in the reach of the client's social media channels 
  • Implementation of >100 well-attended (in-person) event formats annually

Global brand building and positioning as an ESG leader in the construction technology industry

Challenge and situation

Our client aimed to establish a global innovation center for the construction technology industry in EMEA. By 2030, they aimed to create a successful hub that would serve as a home for thought leaders and tech startups. Our work focused on ensuring international visibility and awareness of the initiative and positioning our client as a sustainable tech leader. It involved engaging internal stakeholders and targeting external audiences (thought leaders, startups, media, etc.) through specific communication formats. Our full-service approach included strategic guidelines and practical implementation.

PwC approach

  • Analysis of the project environment, considering internal and external stakeholders to shape the strategic approach and communication planning
  • Development of brand vision, purpose, and tone, as well as deriving internal and external key messages 
  • Identification of global events and platforms to enhance the client's visibility and positioning in an innovative environment, fostering networking with industry leaders
  • Development and implementation of recurring internal formats 

Hands-on planning and execution of an international roadshow to engage external key stakeholders

Result and impact

  • Establishment of a global innovation center and startup hub through marketing and communication blueprints 
  • Leader positioning of the client in innovative real estate and green tech domains 
  • Strengthening of brand awareness, media visibility of the program on internationally relevant platforms and events

DEI communication strategy and brand positioning in the industry sector

Challenge and situation

Our client aimed to strengthen their disrupted supply chain. In our project, we developed a program together to promote supplier diversity. By empowering existing suppliers with more diverse cultures and seeking new, diverse providers, we helped our client become fairer and more inclusive. To ensure the success of the program and position the brand accordingly, we developed a comprehensive communication strategy, designed brand positioning messages, and coordinated an operational action plan.

PwC approach

  • Development of a communication strategy for the establishment of two pilot projects within the Supplier Diversity Program 
  • Stakeholder analysis for target audience and channel mapping 
  • Derivation of suitable communication objectives for internal and external audiences 
  • Creation of a communication plan and alignment of messages with channels and target groups

Result and impact

  • Successful project implementation during the pilot phase through communicative and visual support of selected assets 
  • Effective brand positioning through sensitive internal change communication guidance and targeted external campaigns 
  • Enhancement of the reputation of the cross-company DEI strategy

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Transformation with internal communication strategy

Challenge and situation

We supported our client in implementing a comprehensive DEI transformation and fostering awareness of the benefits and opportunities of diversity, as well as building inclusive behaviors. As the integration of DEI into the company strategy involves a significant transformation process, we developed a tailored communication strategy and supported the implementation of specific measures.

PwC approach

  • Focus on internal communication within the communication strategy during the early phase of the project 
  • Identification of relevant target groups 
  • Consultation on appropriate communication approaches for all employees, including the leadership team 
  • Creation of decision-making frameworks through guidelines for inclusive and gender-neutral language, as well as for organizing multilingual communication within the company       

Result and impact

  • Reduction of reservations at all levels of the organization through the communicative support of the change project and gaining internal project advocates 
  • Achievement of quick wins for the entire DEI project through the guidelines and best practices provided by us on the relationship between language and diversity

"The ability of a company to create increasing value in the future depends on ESG criteria. If companies fail to credibly meet their sustainability commitments or engage in greenwashing, they risk damaging their reputation.This makes a mature and authentic communication strategy all the more important."

Ilana Rolef-Heberling,Senior Manager, Head of Brand Transformation, Communications & DEI, Sustainability Services at PwC Germany
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Ilana Rolef-Heberling

Ilana Rolef-Heberling

Senior Manager, Head of Brand Transformation, Communications & DEI, Sustainability Services, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 175 1208995

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