On Oct. 1, Burt Fealing, Southwire EVP, general counsel, was a guest speaker at Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Live Webinar, where he discussed Southwire’s efforts toward environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and transparency.
In Aug. of this year, Southwire announced that the organization recently engaged with S&P Global Ratings to provide an independent, forward-looking evaluation of the company’s ESG performance and preparedness. S&P Global Ratings is an American credit-rating agency and a division of S&P Global, considered the largest credit-rating agency in the world, that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks, bonds and commodities.
The one-hour webinar that Fealing participated in was a continuation of that conversation and, specifically, gave Southwire an opportunity to discuss the importance of ESG in the private sector. More than 250 people registered to listen to the discussion.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has strict rules on public companies’ transparency on ESG performance, and these organizations are legally obligated to report their ESG ratings. However, private companies, like Southwire, have very little regulations on the subject. In the webinar, Fealing discussed why it is important for private companies to make ESG a priority even if they are not legally obligated to do so.
“Southwire is a company that is 70 years old, and we want to continue to grow and be successful,” said Fealing. “In order to do that, we have to look at ESG as one of our strategic goals now and for the future. For us, ESG has to be completely intertwined with our organization as a whole for us to continue that success.”
Fealing was joined by three S&P representatives in the discussion, and he explained that, regardless of legal obligations, companies’ transparency with their ESG efforts is what will set them up for a successful future. Fealing explained that ESG is not just something that Southwire feels like it should be transparent about, rather, it is a necessity to have, and continue to attract, the best talent possible.
“Our employees want to remain with an organization that has a sense of purpose beyond just a job and a paycheck,” said Fealing. “People want to be part of something that is doing well and creating meaningful change. ESG does that, which is why it is so integral to our culture.”
Scott Paredes, Southwire VP of treasury, expressed that public discussions like this webinar are important for all of Southwire’s stakeholders, including its employees, customers, investors and more. According to Harvard Law, Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG issues have become increasingly important over the past few years, and evaluating a company’s ESG disclosures has become a key tool used by many investors in making investment and engagement decisions. This webinar was an excellent way to reach the financial community, which is a key stakeholder of Southwire.
“As we continue to collaborate with our suppliers and customers to pursue our shared interest of ESG, we also need to continue communicating with our investors and other stakeholders,” said Paredes. “This is essential to getting our story out comprehensively in a way that is transparent. By doing so, we are letting others with a shared commitment to ESG identify us and consider Southwire as a partner of choice, which expands the influence that we already have.”
Throughout the webinar, Fealing discussed not only the importance of ESG but also how Southwire first began, and has continued to expand upon, its commitment to sustainability over the years. Southwire has long held a commitment to sustainability, with efforts focusing on five key tenets – Growing Green, Living Well, Giving Back, Doing Right and Building Worth.
To listen to the full webinar, visit click here. To learn more about Southwire’s commitment toward sustainability, visit click here.
“It is important to note that we want all of our stakeholders to be excited about what we are doing in the sustainability framework – whether that is employees, customers, suppliers, companies we partner with, board members, shareholders or others,” said Fealing. “We are doing this for them, and because we want these stakeholders to be excited to work for or work with our organization. We want people to know that Southwire truly is a great company, not only because of the products and solutions we make, but because of who we are and what we stand for.”