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5 Ways on How to Start an ESG Program

Tara Brown
Apr 21, 2022

ESG (environmental, social, and governance) has been a hot topic lately, and as Forbes’ article ESG Is Here and There’s No Turning Back explains, publicly traded companies can’t afford to neglect ESG matters any longer.

According to Bank Administration Institute (BAI), financial institutions are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their commitment to climate-friendly business. With growing pressure (and opportunity!) from asset managers, along with looming Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) climate disclosure requirements and increased expectations from employees and the public, organizations are quickly moving to incorporate ESG programs into their business strategy and day-to-day operations.

In late 2019, Jack HenrySM formally committed resources to advance our ESG program. We recognize that a commitment to ESG is a journey and we’ll never really “arrive,” so we’re proud of the progress we’ve made in just a few short years. Here are five strategies on how to start an ESG program that we used that can be applicable to any organization:

1. Identify Company’s Material ESG Topics

The Board, Executive Leadership Team, and other key stakeholders across Jack Henry participated in an ESG “materiality survey.” The survey prioritized environmental and social topics based on internal and external importance to our business. The results helped shape our priorities and investor expectations.


2. Determine Reporting Frameworks for ESG Disclosure

Currently, there is no worldwide standard ESG reporting framework, but there are many projects underway to standardize corporate reporting expectations. After assessing stockholder expectations, we aligned our sustainability reports with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). Using those frameworks as guides, we’ve built a multi-year disclosure roadmap for our ESG program.


3. Establish Guiding Principles

There are many meaningful and high-impact ESG opportunities an organization must consider addressing. Guiding principles are useful when evaluating where to invest time and resources. Jack Henry established five guiding principles we use to support decision-making related to ESG programs:

  • Prioritize people
  • Manage risk
  • Deliver strong financial results
  • Support and align with corporate strategies
  • Address investor expectations.


4. Prioritize Projects

We used our ESG guiding principles to prioritize ESG program initiatives. We selected a few high-impact projects and directed resources to them, with the mindset of focus = progress. Our near-term priorities include diversity, equity, and inclusion; corporate ethics; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and climate risk strategy.


5. Craft a Roadmap

Using SASB and TCFD as anchors, we’ve established a multi-year roadmap to guide our ESG program. We started with horizon outcomes and built an action plan backward with milestones and action items documented with increasing granularity in the near term. We proactively manage the roadmap with a rolling commitment to building out the details and pause periodically to take stock of what’s working and where we need to make adjustments or change direction.

Jack Henry’s commitment to doing the right thing is embedded in our cultural fabric. Publishing a sustainability report is our way of publicly sharing how we’ve lived out our commitment to doing the right thing for the last 45 years. For more information on our ESG program and sustainable practices, read our 2022 Sustainability Report, visit our Corporate Responsibility website, or reach out to esg@jackhenry for more information.

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