Businesses in the hospitality sector have an opportunity to lead the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda and deliver prominently on social values, enabling positive change for their people, customers, and the wider community. This is according to a report produced by Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) for the Energy and Environment Alliance (EEA), a not-for-profit coalition of hospitality sector leaders.

WBD and the EEA have been working together for a number of months to help businesses navigate the challenges and opportunities the ESG agenda presents. Core to this work is The “S” in ESG report.

The report provides an overview of the key social issues in the hospitality sector and seeks to advise businesses on how to maximise relationships with their workforce, customers, the supply chain and the wider community in order to make a tangible and long-lasting social impact.

The study looks in detail at some of the challenges facing the sector, from modern slavery prevention measures to diversity, equity and inclusion. It offers an overview of existing and upcoming UK legislation relevant to the “S” in ESG, including the Retained EU Law Bill, the Modern Slavery Bill and the Worker Protection Bill, as well as flexible working and family leave provisions for working parents and carers. It also includes a helpful checklist for businesses.

Claire Wilkinson, Partner and Head of Retail and Hospitality at Womble Bond Dickinson, comments:

"When we look at the different facets of ESG, the “S” factor is a fundamentally important one, particularly in a sector that is so people-focused and also a major employer with a global footprint. In the war for talent and competitive advantage, both employees and customers want to engage with purpose-led organisations that share their values. The good news for the hospitality sector is that the opportunities are there for the taking and businesses need to start setting some ambitious targets, not only for themselves but for the good of their people, customers and stakeholders."

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of EEA, said:

“Hospitality is, at its heart, an industry of people serving people. Our businesses can and in many cases do act as platforms upon which employees, guests, and local societies thrive together. On the flip side, they’re exposed to negative social impacts which can destroy communities and businesses. The EEA thanks the Womble Bond Dickinson team for this excellent guide to legislative requirements in the UK and EU and we are confident this report supports hospitality businesses (the majority of which are SMEs) to mitigate regulatory stewardship risk and harness social value and social equity opportunities."

WBD has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to ESG – the firm was named ESG Firm of the Year at The Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards and was included in the Legal 500 Green which highlights the top UK law firms leading the way on climate change, governance, and sustainability. The firm's full-service retail & hospitality sector comprises over 150 lawyers and represents many of the world’s best-known brands including ME&M, Footlocker, Ann Summers and New Look.

Download the report now

The S in ESG report