The ESG Imperative 2023

10 May 2023

Charities fit for the future

Now is the time to build sustainable organisations that are fit for the future

The challenges facing humanity are immense. As we navigate the ongoing impact of a global pandemic, an escalating climate emergency and an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, our actions and influence as civil society organisations are more important than ever. There is a growing awareness that organisations of all shapes and sizes have a personal accountability to consider their social and environmental footprint and to behave responsibly. But what does this really look like? How much of the reporting frameworks and strategies being adopted in other sectors are transferable to charities?

From navigating the complex world of responsible investment through to developing net zero targets and tackling social issues of equity and inclusion, there is a myriad of ethical decisions facing today’s leaders. Our broad range of speakers will offer practical insight and advice, demonstrating the importance and urgency of the ESG agenda, and leaving you better-equipped to take meaningful action.

Download the brochure for the full programme.

We hope you will join us for what promises to be an inspiring, practical and thought-leading conference.


10 May 2023

  • 8.45AM - 9.25AM
    Registration, refreshments, networking and time to visit exhibition
  • 9.25AM - 9.30AM
    Welcome from Tristan Blythe, editor, Charity Finance
  • 9.30AM - 10.10AM
    Opening Keynote – Creating a culture of integrity

    Kate Sayer is the Director of Integrity & Ethics at Oxfam GB. She will talk about how ESG is being embedded in Oxfam’s ways of working. Oxfam is committed to combatting injustice and inequality as a source of poverty. As well as the campaigns and research, Oxfam seeks to align its ethical, environmental and social practices to its values of empowerment, inclusivity and accountability. Kate will share her learning journey and some practical examples.  

    Kate Sayer, director of integrity and ethics, Oxfam GB

  • 10.15AM - 10.55AM
    1A. Three untold stories of ESG investing

    The importance of assessing financially material environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks when analysing companies is well known. Yet comparatively little has been said about integrating these risks into portfolio construction. ESG considerations don’t have to detract from long-term returns, so it’s crucial ESG investors understand that they’re not immune to other portfolio risks simply because they want to go further when it comes to responsible investing. The long-term cost of any extra fees is also crucial to consider. This session poses some important questions designed to ensure that an ‘ESG investor’ understands the broader implications of their investment decisions.

    Andrzej Pioch, fund manager, Legal and General Investment Management

  • 10.15AM - 10.55AM
    1B. People and Culture: Developing inclusivity and equity in a hostile financial environment

    The pressure is mounting on organisations to prioritise their people or suffer the consequences of poor performance and low staff retention. But in an economic crisis, where demand for charity’s services is rising at the same time as income is falling, how can they keep up with employees’ expectations for increased financial renumeration and other benefits? Where pay cannot compete with other sectors, developing an organisational culture where everyone feels valued and supported is more important than ever. Our speakers also consider how these issues feed into diversity and inclusion, and how the makeup of the organisation from board level to volunteers, can impact ESG performance.

    Chair – Emily Ford, policy advisor, Chartered Institute of Governance
    Speakers – Debra Allcock-Tyler, chief executive, Directory of Social Change and Tiger de Souza, executive director of people and culture, Samaritans

  • 10.55AM - 11.20AM
    Morning coffee, networking and time to visit exhibition
  • 11.20AM - 12.00PM
    2A. ESG and the new era of economic uncertainty

    The session will consider how the new era of economic uncertainty might change the emphasis within ESG investing for charities. The war in Ukraine has disrupted global supply chains for energy, which has changed the conversation on climate change. While COP26 and COP27 bought the race to net-zero to the top of the agenda for investors, many charity trustees are seeking to maximise investment returns in a way that is responsible and meets their charitable goals. But how can you navigate the current problems while remaining responsible?

    Nicola Toyer, head of charities, Investec

  • 11.20AM - 12.00PM
    2B. Leveraging the power of charity finance to advance net zero

    The single biggest challenge facing us as a species is to deal with the damage that we have done to the planet we inhabit. But net zero targets can seem daunting and out of reach, or even beyond the FD’s remit. In an impassioned call to action, Simon Hopkins argues that we need to recognise the collective leverage that we have as a sector, with the total level of economic activity currently estimated at approximately £200bn a year. From leveraging shareholder activism to developing good supply chain partnerships, Simon outlines how by making incremental changes and harnessing our collective agency we could make a significant and important contribution towards achieving net zero.

    Simon Hopkins, director of finance and corporate resources, Versus Arthritis

  • 12.05PM - 12.45PM
    3A. Our rivers are in trouble – what can we all do, including as charity investors, to make a real difference?

    Sadly just 14% of English rivers meet ‘Good Ecological Status’, a figure that has not changed since 2009. Investment managers have a role to play in engaging with water and wastewater companies on behalf of charity investors, to push for better practice across the sector. Join Neville and Carlota for an enlightening session on an area often neglected by other investors, and hear how EdenTree have engaged with UK & Welsh water utility companies to improve the health of our rivers.

    Carlota Esguevillas, senior responsible investment analyst and Neville White, head of responsible investment policy & research, EdenTree

  • 12.05PM - 12.45PM
    3B. ESG Reporting: Moving from intention to action

    There is an increasing expectation that charities are being governed and operating in line with relevant environmental, social and governance criteria. Transparency and accountability is more crucial than ever when it comes to gaining trust and support from key stakeholders, including your funders, beneficiaries, supporters and even your own workforce. This session will consider how reporting underpins all aspects of ESG and is crucial in order to demonstrate real commitment and track progress, and offer some practical advice on how to get started, looking at some established reporting frameworks for guidance.

    Rakesh Vaitha, senior manager, haysmacintyre

  • 12.45PM - 1.45PM
    Lunch, networking and time to visit exhibition
  • 1.45PM - 2.25PM
    4A. The Journey to Net Zero: Accessing strong returns with positive impact

    In this session, Cazenove Capital will be sharing the results of their recent charity sector research, which examines how charities are approaching Net Zero with their investments. They will provide case studies and suggestions of how to align your organisation’s portfolio with Net Zero and other climate commitments, whilst demonstrating progress to your stakeholders through impact reporting.

    Emily Petersen, portfolio director and Kate Rogers, head of sustainability, Cazenove Capital

  • 1.45PM - 2.25PM
    4B. Starting from scratch: A practical guide to starting your net zero journey

    Research conducted by CFG in 2021 showed that 80% of charities do not have a net zero objective, and even fewer report on their carbon emissions. However, there are myriad benefits for organisations who are prepared to prioritise climate action; from saving time and money to strengthening trust and transparency with donors, funders and beneficiaries. Heart of the City is a charity which offers practical support and guidance to SMEs on becoming responsible businesses and mapping out net zero pathways. In this session they will talk about the growing importance of net zero for all organisations and the benefits of taking even small steps forward, translating their approach for charities. Join for practical tips on how to get started, signposting to free resources and support, and leave informed and energised to begin measuring your carbon footprint and create an actionable decarbonisation plan.

    Maggie Berry, director and Natalie Tickle, head of programmes, Heart of the City

  • 2.30PM - 3.10PM
    5A. What does the Butler-Sloss ruling mean for the future of responsible investment?

    The recent Butler-Sloss judgement confirms that trustees have wide discretion to exclude investments based on non-financial considerations. However, to what extent does this mark a definitive moment in a shift towards responsible investment policies? Does it change trustees’ legal duties, or is it simply a confirmation of existing trustee discretion? In the meantime, the ESG investor’s dilemma over engagement versus divestment continues. We ask our panel what matters most to them.

    Chair - Lisa Stonestreet, head of communications and charity impact, Eiris Foundation

    Confirmed panellists – Karen Atkinson, charities finance director, Bridge House Estates, Elaina Elzinga, principal, Wellcome Trust

  • 2.30PM - 3.10PM
    5B. Communicating is key – how to shout louder about ESG and why it matters

    Charities by their very definition are focused on creating public benefit, and will have plenty of existing activity that falls under good ESG practice. But with a lack of standardised gudiance or reporting requirements, and when most are working to maximum capacity, how and why should we begin to prioritise ESG? This session draws on the example of medium-sized charity Groundwork Greater Manchester of looking at their existing work through the lens of ESG; measuring their carbon footprint, carrying out a gender pay gap review, adopting a sustainable procurement policy, and taking steps to embed a successful EDI culture. Deborah will argue that by adopting an ESG framework you can identify and celebrate all the great things you are already doing, and then work out the gaps and where you can do better.

    Deborah Murray, executive director, Groundwork Greater Manchester

  • 3.10PM - 3.35PM
    Afternoon coffee and networking
  • 3.35PM - 4.15PM
    Cold truths about our warming planet – and the role of charity leaders in becoming part of the climate solution

    As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said at the recent UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net-zero will itself be zero.” The outlook can seem bleak and we may feel powerless in the face of this stark reality. But the good news is that there is still a lot we can do to change this narrative. We invite sustainability and climate activist Chris Hines to inspire us to take our rightful place as part of the climate solution.

    Chris Hines, founding member, Surfers Against Sewage and former sustainability director, the Eden Project

  • 4.15PM - 4.25PM
    Chair’s closing remarks
  • 4.25PM - 5.30PM
    Networking drinks reception


Great ways to save!

  1. Be an early bird!
    Book your place now to save up to £150 off the ticket price.
  2. Attend with your team!
    Ensure your whole team benefits from a great day's learning. With the Charity Team Ticket you can send up to four people  
Ticket type Super early-bird (before 17 March) Early-bird (before 14 April) Final release tickets (after 14 April)
Charity delegate £99 £169 £249
Charity team ticket (up to four places)
**Limited quantity available**
£249 £460 £649


With thanks to our sponsors of the ESG Imperative 






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    Cambridge Associates


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HSBC Global Private Banking

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Sarasin & Partners 2021   Waverton_IM_pos_rgb.jpg  




For sponsorship and exhibition queries contact Matthew Nolan

For speaker queries contact our events team

For registration queries contact Carys Pugh

For media partnerships and marketing queries contact Kirsty Brown 

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    1. Please note that speakers and topics were confirmed at the time of publishing, however, circumstances beyond the control of the organisers may necessitate substitutions, alterations or cancellations of the speakers and/or topics. As such Civil Society Media Ltd reserves the right to alter or modify the advertised speakers and/or topics if necessary. Any substitutions or alterations will be updated on our web page as soon as possible.
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