Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) has reached a point where it is widely accepted as part of the framework for the operations of many businesses. That framework can help an organization develop appropriate strategies to address sustainability and risk management.
However, with its growing scope and importance, the information contained within ESG can be vast, complicated, and hard to put together to fit the specific needs of individual companies. Every operation’s pool of data is specific to what that business does, so ESG information looks a little different for each company.
That is where Sphera’s cloud-based Operational ESG solution can come into play, by tailoring to the specific needs of each business that uses it. Sphera’s Environmental Accounting software is also a key component of the Operational ESG solution as it can help high-emitting organizations efficiently manage their compliance practices and generate comprehensive sustainability reports.
Both tools have been recognized as Top Products in the Environment+Energy Leader Awards 2023.
“ESG is ultimately about using a large pool of data to facilitate stronger decision making and to position a company to manage and mitigate risks and take advantage of emerging opportunities,” Sphera CEO and President Paul Marushka says.
Building an ESG Operational Foundation
Sphera is only seven years old, but its leaders have a wealth of ESG experience that spans decades. Marushka says his team has been deeply immersed in ESG for more than 30 years and that a missing piece was a cloud-based system to aggregate all the information companies depend on to track, report, and manage their ESG performance.
Out of that came the SpheraCloud SaaS platform, which houses the Operational ESG solution.
“Bringing all of this information together in one solution allows it to be reviewed and applied at the operational and executive levels,” Marushka says. “And it makes it easier to provide the information to other stakeholders, including regulators, investors, and consumers.”
The Operational ESG solution is designed to help organizations gather all that complex data that fits their specific needs. With that optimization of information, it provides a comprehensive view of their overall operations, which will help them develop strong performance plans as well as strengthen risk management. Sphera tailors the solution specifically to the needs of each organization that uses the platform.
The Environmental Accounting software provides insight into an organization’s management of air and greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for both Scope 1 and 2 emissions, as well as water and waste management, so they can adjust their metrics in real time, according to Sphera.
The software was in part created to address the needs of complex industries yet can adapt to meet the needs of businesses in many sectors. “The adaptability of our software is a key strength,” Marushka says.
The software can create daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports for important stakeholders and investors. Those abilities to provide transparency hold additional importance with increased regulations being implemented.
“Our products enable transparent, accurate, and auditable ESG reporting,” Marushka says. “As a result, they give business leaders confidence in their sustainability reports and compliance efforts. This is critical in an evolving regulatory environment, where there is no room for error.”
The Growing Need for ESG Management Systems
The company has found that there is a real need for ESG tools that provide up-to-date and transparent reporting that meets those regulatory guidelines. Organizations also are looking for platforms that continually monitor important ESG metrics.
Sphera has developed a foundation of data over its years of working in ESG, which allows users to establish a baseline for their sustainability strategies and show what their progress is over time. It also allows businesses to see how they rate against other companies.
Sphera also works closely with its clients to monitor the real-time usage of its systems, which allows the company to make changes as necessary. Marushka says because the Operational ESG solution is cloud-based it allows Sphera to quickly respond to feedback and adjust in the moment.
He says customer input overall plays a significant role in the company’s product development. Sphera strives to develop close relationships with its users that allow the company to understand their experiences and needs and develop systems from that feedback.
Using that background has also helped the company evolve with its technology.
One such area, Marushka says, is artificial intelligence. The technology is capable of analyzing huge amounts of data and it will help advance the operational and decision-making for businesses down the road.
Still, that technology needs to provide data that is user-friendly and accurate. It also should produce information that can be used quickly and in daily business situations.
Enhancing Technologies to Improve Functionality and Meet Business Needs
Sphera has used AI in other platforms, such as its Supply Chain Risk Management solution, which helps mitigate all types of supply chain risk. The company is looking to adapt other products to use similar technologies to help respond to regulatory developments and market demands, Marushka says, as well as new uses for predictive tools.
“The ability to incorporate predictive information into the decision-making process – especially in the area of risk management – makes an enormous difference to companies that want to enhance their ESG performance,” he says.
Overall, Sphera has big goals to help make ESG monitoring and reporting a common practice in the business world.
The company says its mission is to create a safer, more sustainable, and productive world, and that its platforms such as the Operational ESG solution and the Environmental Accounting software help make that more of a reality. Along with its consulting services and other software and content, Sphera sees its offering as a commitment to operationalizing ESG that will bring it on par with financial reporting and beyond, Marushka says.
“The business environment is shifting, and companies are looking for solutions that help them achieve stability in this setting,” Marushka says. “As much as they want to optimize operations, satisfy their compliance obligations and take advantage of emerging opportunities, they also want to ‘do good.’ Our Operational ESG and Environmental Accounting solutions support them in all of those efforts.”