Is Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) the potential silver bullet that I have been searching for to make a step change to the accessibility of digital services.
ESG is an approach to investing that recommends taking environmental issues, social issues and governance issues into account when deciding which companies to invest in. The term ESG was popularly used first in a 2004 UN report titled “Who Cares Wins”, which was a joint initiative of financial institutions.
The ESG business framework has been adopted by an increasing number of organisations in industries including Financial Services, Energy and Utilities, Technology, Consumer Goods and Retail, Automotive and Transportation, Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals, Real Estate and Construction, Extractive Industries, such as mining and oil and gas.
ESG is an open business framework and its adoption is voluntary in that it is not regulatory or legislative. However, there are significant financial business incentives to adopting ESG.
It is important to note that while the general principles of ESG are widely accepted, there is no universal or definitive description of ESG. Different organizations, investors, and stakeholders may have slightly varying interpretations and emphasis on specific aspects of ESG. Accessibility is a good fit within the Social aspects of ESG. Unfortunately, much of the material that I have researched to date makes no specific mention of accessibility. However, the British Bank’s website on ESG has direct links to the UK’s Equality Act 2010.
My current thinking is that, albeit with some minor changes, ESG could really accelerate the provision of more accessible digital services for the employees and customers of organisations. Digital services should comply with the relevant version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) published by the World wide Web Consortium (W3C). Furthermore, ESG is business framework and accessibility to physical locations should also apply.
Making changes to ESG is a non-trivial task, it is not clear who the stakeholders are and there is seemingly no single definition of ESG available at the level where the specificity of the changes needs to be made. A case needs to be produced and a campaign embarked on. I am prepared to lead this nontrivial activity and would welcome any feedback or offers of help. I can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org .
My previous blog entries are:
- The IT Industry has been failing disabled people since the 1990s. https://archivesit.org.uk/blog/the-it-industry-must-do-more-for-disabled-people/
- The IT Industry has standards and guidelines dating back a quarter of a century. https://archivesit.org.uk/blog/the-it-industry-must-do-more-for-disabled-people-part-two/
- There are at least 14.6 million disabled people in the UK. https://archivesit.org.uk/blog/the-it-industry-must-do-more-for-disabled-people-part-3/
- This is not an engineering issue, is now the time for increased legislation and regulation? https://archivesit.org.uk/blog/the-it-industry-must-do-more-for-disabled-people-part-4/
- The Green Agenda is having a negative impact on the accessibility of websites. https://archivesit.org.uk/blog/the-it-industry-must-do-more-for-disabled-people-part-5/
About the author
Chris Winter FIET FBCS CITP is an Ambassador for the Digital Poverty Alliance, an evangelist for digital accessibility and a former IBM Fellow, now retired.
About the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA). The DPA defines Digital Poverty with five key determinants: the affordability of devices and connectivity, accessibility (for the disabled), skills, motivation and a lack of ongoing support. With the breadth of digital poverty being so broad. Its objective is to eradicate digital poverty in the UK by 2030.