Male and Female Industrial Engineers in Hard Hats Discuss while Using Laptop

Reframing ESG as a competitive differentiator

An industrial manufacturer engaged SMA to help formalize its sustainability strategy, enhance disclosures, and publish its inaugural sustainability report. Using its storytelling expertise, SMA presented a clear and compelling narrative to build a strategic foundation that elevated the company’s already-embedded ESG activities. By properly framing its sustainability story, the company gained credit with its key stakeholders and the attention of its eventual strategic acquirer.

Client Challenge

Lack of ESG disclosures resulting in undervalued impact

As a highly efficient and culture-driven organization, the company had a proven history of executing on key ESG initiatives. This included its commitment to employee engagement and diversity, a lean manufacturing model that resulted in a strong safety track record, and a focus on minimizing its environmental footprint. Without a proactive disclosure plan, however, the company received sub-par ESG ratings. Consequently, key stakeholders–including investors, employees, customers–failed to fully appreciate the competitive advantages of the company’s ESG efforts.

The Sharon Merrill Advantage

A strategic approach to sustainability

SMA advised the company in launching a comprehensive strategic approach to its ESG communications efforts. This approach included:

  • conducting a materiality assessment to identify the ESG topics of greatest importance to the company’s business and stakeholders;
  • identifying and quantifying existing ESG activities to spotlight, as well as areas of underperformance to prioritize;
  • advising the company on the reporting frameworks to prioritize;
  • recommending partners for environmental data collection and science-based target setting;
  • developing a sustainability messaging framework to define the company’s environmental, social and governance strategy, key areas of impact and future commitments;
  • producing the company’s inaugural sustainability report; and
  • integrating sustainability disclosures across all investor communications
Quality inspectors at a factory
businesswoman giving a presentation during a meeting


Amplifying the value of embedded sustainability

SMA’s program resulted in the company’s ESG efforts being fully appreciated by its employees, investors, and customers. Notably, the company’s ESG ratings improved. In addition, later in the year the company was acquired at a 54% premium, and the CEO of the acquiror specifically cited our client’s commitment to sustainability as an important factor in valuing the deal.