DigFin Green is our series profiling leaders in fintech companies addressing environment, social and governance (ESG) solutions, using technology to power financial services toward sustainable outcomes. Contact us if you would like to be included.
Angela Kwan is a Sydney-based business owner, entrepreneur and lawyer. She has built a career in real estate and also nurtures startups, advising several.
In 2015 she co-founded Catalyser, a software-as-a-service platform to help companies engage their staff in ESG-related community activities (workplace fundraising and volunteering), and manage and report on their own social impact. The idea is to show businesses the value of community impact beyond tick-the-box reporting.
The following remarks are taking from a webinar organized by the Fintech Association of Hong Kong in November on ESG data for the buy side.
What problem are you addressing?
The social and community aspects of ESG go underreported. Companies support volunteerism and charity donations, but the data around this is ad hoc. In the cases where a company does operate a system to make sense of its policies, it is difficult to track the data – and celebrate impact.
- Read more:
- Open green digi-bonds to retail: a proposal for H.K.
- Max Song of Carbonbase
- Jemma Green of Power Ledger
The other aspect of “S” in ESG is for companies to see the value in the data of having ESG policies beyond just compliance. “S” can be a source of understanding employee engagement and the health of a corporate culture. It’s an important aspect of human resources. But today this data is underutilized. There is real potential for businesses to derive alternative value from ESG data collection.
What does Catalyser do?
We’re a software-as-a-service platform that can be customized within an HR system, so that each member of staff can understand the company’s ESG strategy and get involved – from donations from payroll, to volunteering, to tracking your individual carbon footprint.
Then that data can be correlated to the macro corporate ESG goals, so companies can introduce incentives such as helping staff to support local communities, develop skills through volunteering, reduce their environmental impact or donate to projects that offset carbon.
What does this look like practice?
The benefit is correlating this with other types of data, to develop a view of a corporate’s reputation and risks to its brand. The data can also be used to engage with staff, which leads to better outcomes around retention and learning – with activities like helping people apply their skills when they are volunteering, so they aren’t just helping a charity but they’re developing themselves.
We turn strategic ESG goals into things each staff member can engage with, so each employee sees their own contribution, and roll that up to a corporate analysis: who’s engaged, what topics they care about, and how should the executive team select corporate initiatives or community partners.
What else do we need to know?
Companies face increasing regulation around granular KPIs [key performance indicators], which means they need systems to help them track it all, and scale it – especially for companies with a diverse team spread across jurisdictions.
Employers are always in demand of more talent and expertise. Community engagement appeals to a lot of people, but too often it gets bogged down in manual processes – it’s all being done on Excel spreadsheets. Software allows your talent to focus on what motivates them rather than on paperwork. Let data flow to the individual employee so they can take ownership of their community contributions.
We’re based in Australia but are focused on growing in Asia, and we now work in 10 countries. Our system has powered over $12 million of impact through direct community support and volunteering.