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ESG has moved from sidelines to strategy — here's what that means for Houston companies

Amy Chronis of Deloitte shares why now's the time to invest in ESG — and the impact this movement is having on Houston. Photo via Getty Images

The Houston business community has embraced environmental, social, and governance investments, with a majority of deals in the past two years valued at $50 million or more, per PitchBook Data, Inc. In 2022, Houston companies invested just more than $1.25 billion in clean technology, climate technology, and impact investing. Nationwide, ESG investments totaled north of $15 billion across 330 deals, according to Deloitte’s latest Road to Next report, released late in 2022.

What might this mean for Houston companies? In our view, it demonstrates that ESG appears to be moving from sideline to strategy and in the process, providing potential wins across multiple fronts for companies. As companies prepare for upcoming SEC regulations around reporting greenhouse gas emissions, much of the work they’re doing is not simply “because we have to.”

Increasingly, businesses are realizing that prioritizing ESG can be good for the bottom line, for the planet and for employees. As they prioritize ESG, they’re involving teams, accepting accountability and often reaping the benefits of ESG reporting, according to Deloitte’s 2022 Sustainability Action Report. The report surveyed 300 legal, accounting, finance, and sustainability leaders from companies with annual revenue of $500 million or more. Here are some ways that ESG activity is becoming part and parcel of corporate life.

Teamwork. Fifty-seven percent of executives surveyed note that their companies have assembled cross-functional ESG teams, and another 42 percent say they plan to. That’s a considerable increase from 2021, when a similar study showed that only 21 percent of respondents had such teams in place.

Accountability. A large majority (89 percent) of executives polled have enhanced internal goal setting and accountability mechanisms to promote readiness. These executives realize that their companies can have both an impact and dependence on the environment and society, and that ESG reporting measures may not just be reporting requirements, or a box to check, but a meaningful way to align strategy with commitments to sustainability and the social good.

Proactivemoves. Nearly all (96 percent) of executives surveyed plan to seek external assurance for the next reporting cycle. Among executives in the oil and gas sector, 67 percent say they will continue to obtain assurance and 31 percent will seek it for the first time. Executives are also proactively investing in technology and tools to help them meet reporting needs, with around half saying they are very likely to invest in these tools in the next 12 months. These planned investments indicate that leaders appear confident in the business benefits of ESG.

Reaping the benefits. ESG commitments, it turns out, can be good for business. They are yielding benefits, including attracting and retaining talent, increasing efficiencies and ROI, boosting trust among stakeholders, and enhancing brand reputation. Another, perhaps surprising benefit of enhanced reporting is that it can enable some companies to premium-price their products, a benefit acknowledged by nearly half (49 percent) of respondents.

Facingchallenges. Businesses have challenges, especially when something new comes along. While many executives (61 percent and 76 percent, respectively) are prepared to disclose Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, Scope 3 remains a challenge because it involves data from external vendors. As such, only 37 percent of executives surveyed are prepared to disclose Scope 3 details, the top challenges cited being lack of confidence in the data supplied by external vendors as well as lack of data availability.

In just over a year, we’ve seen ESG reporting morph into a powerful tool, one that can inform business strategy. We expect that in the coming years, leaders may see even more benefits from ESG reporting and integrate it even more fully into the way businesses are managed.


Amy Chronis is the Houston managing partner and vice chair of energy and chemicals at Deloitte. Geoff Tuff is the sustainability leader for ER&I practice at Deloitte.

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From enlightening talks to networking opportunities, here's where you need to be in October. Photo via Getty Images

From networking meetups to pitch competitions, October is lined with opportunities for Houston innovators.

Here's a roundup of events you won't want to miss out on so mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post might be updated to add more events.

Additionally, mark your calendars for November 8 for the annual Houston Innovation Awards.

October 6 — Texas Venture Crawl

Head over to the Ion for pre-panel networking, an engaging Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) investor panel, followed by a happy hour for networking. Panelists include Grace Chan, Principal at bp Ventures; Jason Ethier, Founder of Lambda Catalyzer; Alex Gras, Associate at Mercury Fund; and Billy Grandy, Chief Innovation Officer and Managing Partner at Softeq Venture Fund.

This event is Friday, October 6, from 5 to 8 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

October 7 — Ideation Competition

The Pearland Innovation Hub is hosting it's first Ideation Competition. Participants will get an opportunity to have mentors guide them through Design Thinking and other methodologies to help generate ideas to solve local civic issues.

This event is Saturday, October 7, from 9:30 am to 3 pm at Pearland Innovation Hub. Click here to register.

October 11 — Emerging Tech: Revolutionizing the Industry Panel

From artificial intelligence and blockchain to virtual reality, this panel will explore the impact of these innovations on businesses and society. Whether you are a tech enthusiast, a professional in the industry, or simply curious about the future of technology, this event will have valuable networking opportunities.

This event is Wednesday, October 11, from 1 to 2 pm at HCC West Loop Campus. Click here to register.

October 13 — Web3, Blockchain, & Crypto...Oh My!

Expert speakers will unravel the mysteries of Web3, showcasing its potential to revolutionize industries like finance, gaming, and more. Learn about the power of Blockchain technology and how it ensures transparency, security, and trust in various sectors. Explore the endless possibilities of Cryptocurrencies and their impact on the global economy.

This event is Friday, October 13, at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 16 — Health & MedTech Mingle

Pumps & Pipes is hosting a night of industry mingles occurring simultaneously at the Ion featuring FinTech, EdTech, Food Tech, and more. This month's featured speaker is Dr. Alan Lumsden, Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery and Chair of the DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center at Houston Methodist.

This event is Monday, October 16, at the Ion. Click here to register.

October 19 — UH Energy Symposium Series - The Future of Mobility Promises & Bottlenecks

The latest installment of UH Energy's Critical Issues in Energy Symposium Series tackles the obstacles facing a transition to a circular economy.

Panelists to include: Dave Mullaney – Principal, Rocky Mountain Institute; Varuna Singh – Deputy District Engineer TxDOT; Erika Myers – Executive Director, CharIN, e.V.; Matt Peterson – President and CEO, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator; Catherine McCreight – Director of Transportation Planning, TxDOT; Funda Sahin – Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, University of Houston (Moderator).

This event is Thursday, October 19, at the University of Houston. Click here to register.

October 25 — Houston Startup Ecosystem Summit

The Houston Startup Ecosystem Summit is an opportunity for innovators, entrepreneurs, and tech enthusiasts to come together and push the boundaries of what's possible. This event features a lineup of panelists, diverse breakout session tracks, and a competitive startup pitch showcase.

This event is Wednesday, October 25, at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 25  — TMC Startup Symposium

The Symposium will include 1:1 time with subject matter experts, industry networking events, educational presentations, and thought leader panel discussions. The following topics will be covered: intellectual property, voice of customer, regulatory reimbursement, clinical commercialization strategy, angel investing, venture capital investing, and serial entrepreneurship. Startup registration is $250 for a ticket.

This event starts Wednesday, October 25, from 8 am to 5 pm at TMCi. Click here to register.

October 26 — Unleash the Power of AI and ChatGPT

Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with a panel of industry experts, and network with like-minded individuals. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting your AI journey, this event is designed to inspire and educate. Discover how AI is revolutionizing various industries and learn how to leverage its power to drive innovation in your own projects.

This event is Thursday, October 26, from 6 to 8:30 pm at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 27 — SHINE: The Conference on Culture

Shine is a half day conference focused on the organizational structures of workplaces. Attendees can expect to hear from a range of speakers who will share their wisdom gained from industries, from breweries to public relations.

This event is Friday, October 27, from 8 am to 1 pm at Stages. Click here to register.

October 30-31 — Fuze

This energy conference is a must-attend event for executives, investors, and founders serious about solving the energy crisis and boosting company efficiency. Featuring keynotes, expert panels, tech showcases, and networking, Fuze has a variety of activities planned for energy industry professionals. Price of admission ranges from $299-$799.

This event starts on Monday, October 30, from 8 am to 7 pm at 713 Music Hall. Click here to register.

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