At Nossa Data, we are proud to disclose that our ESG reporting software is an accredited ESG software partner for various ESG Frameworks and Standards, including the GRI, SASB, and CDP. This growth has enabled Nossa Data to continue to provide value to clients like PensionBee and more, as seen in our client case study with Vodafone.
Here, we discuss ESG and our ESG reporting software with Giorgia Antonacci, ESG Manager at PensionBee. PensionBee shares how Nossa Data provides tools to improve their ESG and makes their reporting processes more efficient. Furthermore, we share how PensionBee and Nossa Data collaborated to develop Nossa’s materiality assessment feature and create PensionBee’s first materiality assessment.
PensionBee working with Nossa Data
What has been your favourite part about using Nossa Data’s ESG reporting software?
For us, the best part of using Nossa Data’s ESG reporting software has been the user experience and working with the team. The platform is well structured, user friendly and very intuitive. The Nossa team is brilliant. The regular catch-ups we had throughout the materiality assessment helped us a lot during the process. The team is super responsive and always on hand to support our questions.
How does a technology solution, like Nossa Data, help improve the ESG disclosure processes for listed companies?
The Nossa Data platform is well structured and easy to use, and as reporting on different frameworks can be labour intensive, it speeds up the disclosure processes, giving us precious time back that we can better use to focus on the ESG activities that are most important to our stakeholders.
How did you get to know the Nossa Data team initially? What interested you most about continuing to work with Nossa Data beyond that point?
Our CEO, Romi Savova, saw Nossa Data’s CEO Julianne Flesher for the first time when Julianne was a speaker at the Barclays Rise. After that event, we signed up to Nossa Data’s newsletter to get all the amazing ESG-related content and insights. We finally started collaborating with Nossa Data when they became the technology provider for the Workforce Disclosure Initiative - which aims to improve corporate transparency and accountability on workforce issues, provide companies and investors with comprehensive and comparable data and help increase the provision of good jobs worldwide.
“We submitted our first WDI report in 2021 through the Nossa Data platform and started speaking to the fantastic team at Nossa back then,” Giorgia, ESG Manager, PensionBee
Nossa Data’s and PensionBee’s Collaboration on the Materiality Assessment
Nossa Data and PensionBee collaborated this year to co-create their materiality assessment feature, which helped PensionBee to complete their first ESG materiality assessment. What led you to decide to do an ESG materiality assessment in the first place?
At PensionBee, we’ve always taken the time to listen to our stakeholders’ interests and concerns carefully. But since we became a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange, PensionBee has reached a stage of maturity as a business that we’ve decided to formally engage with stakeholders to better understand their ESG views and priorities.
Also, from a capacity perspective, we really want to be doing everything, but because we are a small team, we need to make sure that we are focusing on the activities that matter most to our stakeholders and that ultimately reflect PensionBee’s priorities too.
What was the most challenging part of completing a materiality assessment for the first time? How did Nossa Data help you complete the process?
Considering this was the first time for PensionBee conducting a materiality assessment, the process was challenging in different stages:
1. Getting the structure right to start, as it felt like we were working a lot of things out as we went along and had to do a few pivots. We also had a few long internal conversations after the kick off meeting about what materiality actually means, so having more structure at the beginning would have been beneficial. This would have helped us know how to synthesise the topics from the outset. How many should we start with? How do we begin to measure ‘importance to stakeholders’? Nossa’s initial competitor analysis showed us that we could already be stronger than our peers, so we started from a blank canvas when it came to topics. It showed that our company values were a strong ESG competitive advantage.
2. Another challenge was understanding the nuances. We had to find a clear and effective way of posing our questions without informing the answer so that we could obtain honest feedback.
3. Refining topics was another major challenge. As we surveyed three different big stakeholder groups with different priorities and interests, we had to translate the ESG topics into themes that could be universally appealing to all groups of stakeholders.
4. Developing a weighing system. In order to define how we would position the ESG themes on our materiality matrix it was essential to develop a methodology and a weighing system to assign an accurate score to each topic.
“Nossa Data has deep knowledge across all kinds of ESG ratings like Refinitiv, and frameworks like SASB, which gets built into the tool and into our conversations. This knowledge also guided us in aligning our ESG topics with the UN SDGs,” Giorgia, ESG Manager, PensionBee
PensionBee and ESG
Why is ESG important to PensionBee?
PensionBee is a leading online pension provider, with a mission to make pensions simple, so that everyone can look forward to a happy retirement. Because our product is for everyone, we strive to help all people achieve a happy retirement in the form of financial freedom, good health and social inclusion.
We believe that pursuing all of these three pillars will lead to bigger pensions for our customers. As a pension company with a long-term horizon for our customers, you know some of our customers are 18 and won’t retire until the 2070s; we have a duty to them to look past short term profit in pension investments. It would be illogical for our customers' pensions to be invested in companies that bring high short term returns while causing huge environmental and social harm. That’s because the world they retire into is as important as the size of the pot they retire with. No one will be able to enjoy a retirement pot if they need to spend most of it on flood defences, or access to clean food and clean air.
In achieving our vision, it's important to walk the talk. That means we think it's crucial to be a role model in corporate society and to lead by example that means impactful corporate and social responsibility initiatives.
Also, recent PensionBee data highlights our strong internal diversity, with more than half of our employees identifying as female, compared to 43% in UK financial services (according to 2021 ONS data). 16% of PensionBee employees identify as LGBTQ+, compared to 3% across the UK. Almost 40% self-identify their racial or ethnic background as other than white, compared to 13% across the UK.
For all these reasons, we believe that effectively managing our ESG priorities is fundamental and will help preserve our resilience and drive long-term value for all our stakeholders.
What has been the most surprising thing about launching an ESG program?
As Nossa Data explained in a brilliant newsletter from last October, where they told us that companies are asked a total of 1900 ESG questions across 8 different frameworks, questions are very similar but never quite the same. What this means is that launching an ESG program can be extremely labour intensive, especially for small teams with limited capacity, and that’s why Nossa Data is exceptionally useful.
“Because of the similarities of ESG questions, Nossa Data’s ESG reporting software is exceptionally useful. The team and the platform reduce the labour intensity by providing us with all the information and context to get started with the reporting, so that we can focus on doing the actual work to progress our ESG journey,” Giorgia, ESG Manager, PensionBee
What led you to working in ESG?
My interest in Corporate Social Responsibility and why it matters to businesses, people and the planet was born while I studied Politics at university. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do a job I’ve always dreamt of. Working in ESG is so important for me because I feel I have a purpose, and my job is helping me to pursue it every day.
PensionBee is particularly special in this sense. We take our responsibilities towards our customers, our colleagues, and all our stakeholders to heart. We recognise we have an important role to play in driving positive change through our business activities.
Also, the UK’s Department for International Development found that “68 per cent of UK savers wanted their investments to consider the impact on people and planet alongside financial performance”. This means pensions have the collective power and potential to change the world for the better and as an asset owner, we take our responsibilities extremely seriously.
Advice on how firms can incorporate ESG Reporting Software
What advice would you give to other small-cap listed companies who are just starting their ESG programs?
Desmond Tutu once wisely said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” We know that small businesses usually don’t have sufficient capacity to dedicate time to ESG programs, so we suggest selecting a couple of frameworks that resonate with the business and get the company into the habit of reporting. We have learnt that even working on just one framework slightly changes the way teams think about certain topics and consequently this has a positive effect on the way the business operates and addresses stakeholders’ needs.