Jessica Shannon, Sandals Resorts’ chief experience officer, along with a panel of change makers recently spoke at the Island Finance Forum 2023.
Sandals Resorts said that environmental social governance (ESG) is a big part of the organisation’s agenda to be the voice championing regional partnerships between governments and the private sector and the benchmark for a corporate ESG framework.
Shannon, in her delivery, shared that Sandals has been non-traditional in its approach.
“Our founder Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart was a visionary who recognised that any sustainable model required ESG. This has been key for the organization and we have the benefit of tremendous support from our leaders. We know that any risk to the framework is a major issue for our (business) and any business overall.”
Since inception, Sandals has displayed care and concern for the sustainability of the region. In the early
90s, Sandals received its first certification from EarthCheck, the world’s leading science-based
environmental certification and benchmarking program for the travel and tourism industry.
To date, all Sandals and Beaches resorts are EarthCheck certified with some already attaining ‘platinum’ and even ‘master’ status, the highest accolade awarded. Furthering the focus on ESG, was the implementation of key entities such as the Sandals Foundation, which continues to make a significant difference in the Caribbean by funding impactful and meaningful initiatives in education, community and the environment.
Capacity building of the company’s team members is also vital, shared Shannon, and this has seen huge
business advantages, “in 2012 the company launched the Sandals Corporate University giving team members ongoing access to learning with some 34000 certifications issued in the last 11 years,” she
Sandals has positioned itself as the centre of excellence by leading on the global stage on the
significance of ESG. “We recognize the importance of partnerships and we are looking forward to more
Shannon further elaborated, “our executive chairman (EC), Adam Stewart is the chair of the Tourism Linkages Council in Jamaica. The council is comprised of key public and private sector partners who oversee the coordination and implementation of effective and sustainable strategies which strengthen and facilitate linkages across productive sectors of the economy.”
In providing some key advice to organisations starting their ESG journey, Shannon said all stakeholders need to be onboard.
“This will be a culture shift and you need to pick the things that are important and align with company strategies,” she noted.
She continued to share that reporting is also paramount “being able to measure performance and properly report it is important. Make sure it is seen as a business imperative and not something ‘nice-to-have’. Committing to the ESG framework makes good business sense.”
Joining Shannon in the vital and timely conversation were fellow panelists Cheryl Senhouse, finance
innovation director at Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator; Tisha Marajh, senior manager and group
sustainability officer, Republic Bank; and Gillian Charles-Gollop, executive director of corporate banking
and sustainable finance at CIBC FirstCaribbean.
The discussion, according to Dathorne-Bayrd is a very important topic for private organisations and plays
a major part in being the driving force of their impact in the business community.