From Roy Snell

My daughter, Jessica (see picture) was and still is our first child. She is now about 30 and married to a wonderful guy named Colin. Jessica went to a fine college, interned at a PR firm, got hired by the PR firm, achieved partner status at a young age and quit to become a doula. Given I had no idea what a doula was you would think I would be concerned about this decision but you would be wrong because I trust her and my responsibility to try to manage her life ended years ago. One year later she is part of a doula team that reaches capacity every month.

Yesterday Jessica said that Walmart has a new $1,000 pretax benefit for women for hiring a doula. Target has also added a similar doula benefit. It is not enough to cover the total cost of a doula but this benefit is material to young mothers. I think this is a perfect example of a what an Environmental, Social and Governance program is all about.

A doula is someone who provides practical and emotional support to a pregnant individual, their partner and family members. If you have ever thought that healthcare workers are occasionally too busy to adequately explain everything and spend time helping you cope with the stress of the healthcare encounter, then you are going to understand why doulas are becoming so popular with mothers. If you understand the purpose of an ESG program then you can see the genius of what Walmart and Target have done. An ESG program makes the world a better place and it must do so without financially handicapping the organization. A doula benefit policy is a perfect example of that. This is a relatively inexpensive benefit compared to other benefits and this benefit has the potential to save the company as much as the benefit cost the company.

Doula Support For Pregnant Women Could Improve Care, Reduce Costs. January 15th 2016, Tara Haelle

“A study published online Thursday by the journal Birth suggests that offering women the support of a certified doula could save Medicaid and perhaps private insurers real money — nearly $1,000 a birth — by reducing cesarean and preterm births.”

Set aside the financial aspect for a moment, think about the mental health benefits and the benefit of attracting and retaining good employees. Mental health benefits are extremely important right now. This, in part, is what an innovative ESG Officer thinks about.

What companies need is a dedicated ESG Officer looking for these opportunities 24/7/365. I believe, strongly, there are many other benefits that will not add additional costs but rather shift to more beneficial ESG related uses. I also believe that there are more of these “additional” costs that will reduce future costs. Selecting the right ESG Officer is the key. They must care deeply about environment, social and governance issues but they must also care deeply about the financial success of the organization. We need to avoid hiring ESG officers that think only about ESG and not the company they work for. We don’t need people who think the answer to ESG is just spending more money, pointing fingers and telling everyone they are bad. ESG Officers need to work harder than that. We need research and documentation about the benefit of an ESG related change.

ESG programs and ESG Officers are like every other department in the company. It can be run poorly by lazy people or the ESG department can be wildly successful functionally and financially when run by some who is willing to look for effective ESG opportunities like Walmart and Target have. ESG Officers need to excel at critical thinking. They need to conduct research to find new ideas and talk to other ESG experts to learn about new opportunities.

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