How to Embed Environmental Social Governance Values into Product Design

5 min read

As the world faces climate challenges, social issues, and economic inequality, embedding Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Values into a product design’s core from the very start is crucial. ESG values are essential for a product’s long-term sustainability, social impact, and economic planning. 

Considering ESGs at the beginning of a product’s design process fulfills needs without endangering future generations' resources. 

How do you incorporate environmental concerns into product design? You incorporate and address environmental concerns in product design by embracing sustainability, keeping the broader impact on the environment and community at the forefront of the design process. 

Design team members should be well-versed in ESG principles and materials. Managers should have accountability assessments for every stage of the life cycle. 

Using data and tools like benchmarking, audits, and internal controls can help along the way. 

Significance of Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Values

Environmental, Social and Governance refers to an organization’s sustainable impacts and ethical behaviors. ESG values prompt corporations to engage in efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and focus on strategies that reduce the use of natural resources. 

While ESGs aren’t always non-financial factors, they are considered by financial investors to evaluate risk and growth opportunities.   

Consumers: Buyers are more aware of environmental issues today than ever. New products developed with ESG values also meet the demands of the socially conscious customer. 

Investors: ESG values demonstrate an investable long-term roadmap with focused sustainability over short-term profits and disappearing resources. 

Environmental Values in Product Design

Environmental values in product design include being mindful of energy requirements, resource consumption, emissions output, and waste that will be produced with the product. 

A sustainable product is created to use fewer resources and waste less. Efforts to be more sustainable naturally lead to a more cost-efficient product when raw material consumption is lower.

Why is it important for an organization to integrate environmental aspects into its product design and development? Integrating environmental aspects into product design and development is crucial for the product's longevity. 

Keeping sustainable values in product design and development will prevent production disruption that could arise from shortages, regulations or government intervention.

Design teams should keep detailed notes about the estimated and actual resource use as the project develops. Setting a target and circling back at each phase to ensure you are on track will help embed environmental values in your product design. 

Don’t be afraid to take a brief step back to improve processes and re-evaluate. Doing so early can save big in the future. 

Social Values in Product Design

Social values in product design demonstrate a company’s respect for relationships with employees, consumers, and other institutions with which it does business. 

Creating a product with social values means the design team must explore how to contribute to society and improve lives. At the same time, the corporation developing products must take similar considerations regarding its community. 

Organizations that invest in employees, ethical consumption, and social causes naturally boost public opinion of their product or service. Not only does this result in more stakeholders and customers, it also attracts quality talent to their teams.

A helpful exercise to incorporate social values into your product design is to ask your team who, what, and where will be impacted by the product. Get responses from diverse voices, don’t just stick to one department. 

Identify your most significant opportunities, vulnerabilities and leverage points. Use them to make positive changes and commitments to improve.  

Governance Values in Product Design

How a corporation regulates itself is governance. This includes guidelines on how decisions are made, how much pay the executives receive, donations or lobbying, and financial strategies. 

Governance values are associated with integrity, transparency and inclusiveness within the organization.

Governance boards and their values were put on the spot to navigate the quickly changing world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Transparent organizations with robust governance values were able to lead, adapt and implement new strategies. 

Diverse leadership allows companies to identify creative and ethical paths previously unavailable.

Poor governance results in disgruntled employees, stakeholders and mismanaged companies, bringing severe financial and operating consequences.

Tips for building governance values in your product design:

  • Diversify your product design team, both in composition and leadership.

  • Allow members to voice opinions and share freely.

  • Ensure accountability checks are in place.

  • Choose to be transparent about your entire process and difficulties. 

  • Respond to the needs of today’s society and the society of the future.

Find Climate Tech Freelancers

Committing to ESG values isn’t just “the right thing to do.” These values drive the impact you will make from the first stages of product design into the final stages of product development. Embedding ESG values benefits your company, community, stakeholders, and customers. 

According to MSCI, companies that embed Environmental Social Governance values have high profitability and dividend payments, fewer idiosyncratic risk events, and overall less systematic volatility. 

The design phase influences 80% of product-related environmental impacts. Hire a climate conscious freelancer to assist your organization in building a sustainable product with established ESG values.

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About the Author

Kate manages content marketing for talent acquisition at MVP Match. Her job? Attracting the best and brightest tech talent into our community where they are matched with rewarding roles they deserve. She's a copywriter at heart, and has spent over 10 years in marketing for tech, healthcare, and consulting firms. An avid traveler and workation pro, Kate both embraces and advocates for a future where everyone is empowered to define work on their terms.