Inaugural ESG PIA shows industry hunger for green innovations

(Back, from left to right) EY auditor Arina Kok, Star Media Group chief business officer Lydia Wang, Green Growth Asia strategic advisor Dr Sarva Mangala Praveena, MRANTI chief commercial officer Khairil Anuar Sadat Salleh, BCSDM board member Khor Yu Leng, EY auditor Koh Jia Fang, OCBC Bank Wholesale Corporate Banking vice president Voo Mun Hou, (front, from left to right) Green Growth Asia executive director Dr Muhammad Mahadi Mohamad, MIDA Strategic Planning and Policy Advocacy (Services) Division senior deputy director Suthashini Supramaniam and MICG governor Izlan Izhab were present for a photo-op on April 4. - FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

The Star Media Group’s ESG Positive Impact Awards (ESG PIA) judging session completed its second round on April 4, with the finalists pitching themselves to a panel of six judges at Menara Star.

The judging kicked off at 9.45am after a judges briefing by auditor EY.

Judges then withdrew into two rooms – split between the large companies and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) and mid-tier companies – as the finalists pitched their companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives to the judges.

The sessions were conducted in-person, with each pitch and question-and-answer moment lasting 15 minutes. Almost all the finalists were present for the judging, which concluded at 4pm.

For this round of the judging session, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) Strategic Planning and Policy Advocacy (Services) Division senior deputy director Suthashini Supramaniam was the chief judge for the large companies category.

“As this is the first ever ESG PIA we can’t compare with previous years on the quality of submissions, but the diversity of companies cuts across many industries and it indicates that ESG is crucial,” said Suthashini.

Accompanying judges are Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance (MICG) governor Izlan Izhab and Green Growth Asia Foundation strategic advisor Dr Sarva Mangala Praveena.

Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) chief commercial officer Khairil Anuar Sadat Salleh was the chief judge for the small and medium enterprise and mid-tier category.

“For SMEs, we’re focusing on the impact these companies have made,” said Khairil.

“As this is the first time we’re doing this, we’re not expecting perfection. There will be aspects we can improve on but we can quickly prove through this exercise how objective the companies are.”

Other judges are Business Council for Sustainable Development Malaysia (BCSDM) board member Khor Yu Leng and Green Growth Asia Foundation executive director Dr Muhammad Mahadi Mohamad.

OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad is the main sponsor of the ESG PIA, while Telekom Malaysia (TM) is the co-sponsor.

OCBC Bank Wholesale Corporate Banking vice president Voo Mun Hou said the bank was encouraged by the turnout for the inaugural ESG PIA.

“We hope the Awards will help to unearth the impactful ESG strategies, programmes and achievements of both the smaller companies and larger ones – backed by solid data using scientific approaches – so others can emulate what they are doing more effectively.

“We believe that measurability is important because if a company’s goals or ideas are too abstract, it becomes hard to gauge the impact they are leaving.

“Awards like ESG PIA help to create awareness about concrete steps that can be taken toward adopting a more sustainable future.

“When we learn from the journeys of the corporates and SMEs adjudged winners later, we will be in position to move closer to our sustainability ideals. Their stories and submissions will show other corporates that their company can embark on a similar ESG journey as well,” he said.

“The most important step to take for companies who are unsure of where to begin is to get things in motion, and then you learn as you move along. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when you first start out,” Voo said, explaining that the banking sector did have its share of hurdles in the early stages of ESG strategies and initiatives too.

TM chief corporate and regulatory officer Tengku Muneer Tengku Muzani said: “We hope the participants will become champions in ESG and thought leaders for companies who will want to emulate their initiatives.

“The ESG PIA is an excellent initiative to build greater awareness and traction in strengthening sustainability practices across our nation.

“TM is delighted to be a partner and strongly advocates the efforts and commitment of all Malaysian organisations towards our national objectives of a sustainable and responsible future.

“To create meaningful impact requires the collective efforts of all parties to raise awareness, promote collaboration, in support of our environment and the community at large. Only by working together can we create a more sustainable and responsible future for all.”

“We can only be winners if everyone wins together,” he said.

Stay tuned this May to find out who the winners of the inaugural ESG PIA are.

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