Five steps to develop a sustainability strategy: Step one

Almost every company in the gaming industry will already factor in elements of ESG to their business plan. To ensure an effective, all-encompassing approach, Laura Da Silva of runs through five key steps to bring this into a cohesive strategy.


Sustainability as a buzzword for new business practices has experienced an exponential growth of interest in the gaming industry over the last few years.

As companies - and the individuals who work for them - realise the growing importance of ESG, there is more impetus to ensure a net positive impact on society and the environment.

These practices see businesses address a huge variety of issues, from climate change, to gender inequality to anti-corruption policies. Not only have industry-leading sustainability strategies begun to pave the way in the new era of social responsibility, but companies are beginning to set examples. There have been those that aligned themselves with the Paris Agreement on net zero emissions by 2030, and others that have included the opinions of addiction psychologists in their responsible gaming policies.

However, the heightened attention and publicity given to sustainable business practices, which has occurred across all industries not just gaming, has meant it has become increasingly easy to get lost in a storm of definitions, metrics and guidelines.

The increasing complexity of sustainability strategies during this growth has in fact been detrimental to aims of positive impact. What is really needed is concrete quantifiable objectives as part of a clear sustainability strategy, as many people within the industry are still questioning what a sustainability strategy even is.

A sustainability strategy crucially sets out the priorities for a company on its responsible business practices and shows how it will use its actions to have a positive impact.

Sustainability is just one definition for these practices, and others include Environmental Social Governance (ESG), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and People Planet Profit. Importantly, all of these characterise an understanding that it is not what you do with the money you earn that matters most, but the “how” and “why” the company operates.

Building clear and impactful sustainability strategies is important across all industries. An effective strategy pushes the company to do better, as competitiveness is increased and long-term risks are reduced due to compliance with regulations. By doing good, the brand improves, increasing employee and customer retention.

As companies rely more and more on talented developers and technical profiles, they realise that they are competing with the likes of Google, Amazon or Apple. To stand out, salary is no longer enough. Standing for more than just profit also becomes a key differentiator to attract the talents needed for business development.

For the gaming industry, which does not have a historical focus on issues of positive social impact beyond charitable donations, building these strategies can ensure essential buy-in from employees at all levels, as well as fostering better engagement with stakeholders.

It also helps identify areas in need of attention and missed by financial metrics within the company. This enables resources to be aimed directly at these areas but also the identification of new areas for development, creating growth opportunities.

Although the thought of developing a sustainability strategy from scratch can be daunting, when unravelled into its core components the unnecessary complexities seen in many strategies are removed.

STEP 1: Shared understanding

The first step in creating a sustainability strategy has to be developing a shared commitment to and understanding of sustainability, asking the question: What does sustainability mean and why is it important?

At this initial stage a group should be assembled with members from across the organisation, who will bring different expertise to the table so that all areas are included in the strategy. Within this team someone with experience as a project manager should be included, to lead and delegate tasks, enabling the smooth development of the sustainability strategy.

There also must be a conversation to ensure buy-in from senior management, as this is crucial to the success of a strategy, ensuring funding and uptake throughout the business.

The first task of this group should be to brainstorm and compile a list of the key impacts and issues that the company creates. At this stage a gap analysis also needs to be undertaken.

A gap analysis looks to assess what, if anything, is being done in areas of social and environmental responsibility by the given company looking to develop a sustainability strategy. This can begin with a brainstorming exercise on the potential issues within a particular industry.

For the European lottery industry a good place to start when identifying these areas in the European Lottery Association CSR Guidelines. It details these ‘core subjects’ and even gives examples on the best way to collect data on different issues. For others, the UN Sustainable Development Goals or ISO 26000 can be a good place to start.

By starting to collect data internally and assess these gaps early on, the actions needed to be taken will be more easily identifiable when creating an action plan.

In part two, we'll look at stakeholder mapping.

Participate in ICE365 and DigitalRG's industry ESG survey

In order to understand the key issues on which the industry needs to focus, click here to do a personalised materiality assessment. This will be used as part of the ICE365 Materiality Matrix, in collaboration with DigitalRG, to create the most accurate picture of the ESG elements the gambling industry will prioritise in the year ahead.

About is the only membership-platform helping the industry do well by doing good. It provides the necessary steps and tools to:

1. Understand your social and environmental impact,

2. Define tailored ESG objectives and related action plan,

3. Train team members & partners,

4. Measure effectiveness, report and achieve certifications. believes companies need to be part of the solution for a more sustainable planet for all.