The Riskonet roadmap to making companies greener

April 9, 2024

Riskonet Turkey runs through the ins, outs and benefits of complying with ESG guidelines.

Environment, Social and Governance, or ESG, is becoming increasingly important. This has given rise to a phenomenon known as “greenwashing”, the misleading practice of marketing a company so that it appears more environmentally friendly or ecologically responsible than it actually is. However, as Özlem Emgen, Riskonet partner in Turkey, points out: “Why pretend to go green when you can be the real thing? Riskonet offers a genuine alternative to greenwashing, by helping clients comply with both the letter and the spirit of ESG and thus benefit from authentic green credentials.”

Reaping the rewards

There are several reasons for ESG’s increasing importance, says Özlem, one of which is project finance. Financial institutions want to invest in projects that underscore responsible growth and take the environment into account, which calls for proper governance. Sustainability is also key. Many Turkish companies are active internationally and clearly see the advantages and added value of ESG. “At the end of the day the rewards reaped by these companies are as much financial as they are reputational.”

Strongly regulated

The Social component of ESG is very broad and involves internal and external stakeholders, explains Özlem. The former are the employees. And employers’ responsibilities towards them include fairness, work diversity, and wage parity for the same work, particularly for women. Also important are employers’ policies relating to disabled employees, migrant workers and child and forced labour. Turkey is a signatory to several international conventions and is quite strongly regulated in this area. Similarly, many Turkish financial institutions are signatories of international agreements and regularly test their systems for compliance.

Enhanced reputation

Focusing on working conditions translates to happier and more productive employees and better quality products, she insists. Which is why Turkish companies see it as a good move to embrace and invest in ESG. “As well as forging leading roles for themselves and enhancing their own reputation and competitive position domestically, it makes them attractive partners and suppliers for international companies.”

Supply chains

The risks associated with the supply chain should not be underemphasised, stresses Özlem. It is often the case that in addition to being part of a larger supply chain, a company also relies on its own. In this context, limiting carbon emissions is a tough ask for every country today, which is perhaps why Turkish companies can offer an appealing alternative to Asian suppliers. “Among other aspects, the carbon footprint of a supplier nearer to home is greatly reduced, as are the potential geo-political risks involved in long shipping journeys through conflict-sensitive regions.”

“At the end of the day the rewards reaped by these companies are as much financial as they are reputational”

Identify and manage risks

External stakeholders, meanwhile, include parties that are impacted or benefit from a company’s work or product. If a major project is being carried out near a community, for example, the relevant authorities qualify as external stakeholders. So too do community members, which is why it is important to minimise a project’s impact on them and offer a safe environment and an effective and accessible grievance mechanism. It is crucial to identify and manage the risks associated with health and safety that affect communities. “In mega-projects like dams for hydro-electric power stations, for example, an accident can have huge repercussions. Contingencies must be in place to allow for the uncontrolled flow of water, and sometimes even the controlled flow of excess water through sluices. Similarly, accidents or other unforeseen events in mining operations can also affect entire communities.”

Labour auditing

Özlem goes on to explain that Riskonet Turkey is involved in several projects in which ESG is a key factor. In the area of project finance, for example, she advises on the management of environmental and social risks. Labour auditing is another important area. Her advice here ranges from social security and activities offered by the company to procurement protocols and from salary-, rewards-, sanctions- and promotions-systems to the physical work and rest areas and facilities offered to employees. The company’s attitude towards trade unions and communication with the workforce are also documented, as well as the applicable collective bargaining agreements.


Riskonet Turkey also advises on how a company could improve its standing by carrying out social responsibility projects in its immediate surroundings. “Our report will typically draw a picture of a company’s current situation and potential shortfalls in compliance with international ESG requirements. It will also include recommendations to ensure compliance and thus improve that situation.”

Punitive consequences

Underestimating the importance of ESG can have punitive consequences, cautions Özlem. Nowadays, reputational damage resulting from poor social performance can be widely and quickly communicated through social media channels and even on TV news. The financial impact can be felt through the loss of a contract, or perhaps the failure to obtain the finance needed to even get a project started. Legal aspects can have negative reputational and financial impact through scheduling problems, for example. “And last, but certainly not least, an unhappy labour force can fuel high staff turnover, delays, reduced productivity and lower product quality, all of which have adverse knock-on effects.”

Critical observations

Key parts of Riskonet Turkey’s service are inventorying a company’s strengths and weaknesses, conducting interviews with all levels of the workforce and collecting documentation relating to ESG. This can range from stakeholder engagement plans to health and safety and emergency response mechanisms, and much more besides. It is very much hands-on, concludes Özlem, and involves physically walking through a company’s factories and warehouses and making critical observations. Changing rooms, for example, must be properly sized and equipped and fit for purpose for the number of employees using them. As for documentation she makes recommendations how to improve and, where necessary, supplement it. “We also advise how the company can encourage employee participation through providing valuable feedback by rewarding them accordingly, but only if it genuinely adds value.”

Local offices


Ron de Bruijn

The Netherlands
+31 85 043 79 40
[email protected]


Tom de Nooij

The Netherlands
+31 85 043 79 40
[email protected]


Özlem Emgen

+90 533 21 12 051
[email protected]


Leszek Golachowski

+48 663 336 844
[email protected]


Chris Brits

South Africa
+27 83 456 7424
[email protected]


Janet Short

Coal Point (Sydney)
+61 (0)49 3868111
[email protected]

Scroll to top