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Three cheers (and more) for E.S.G. !

A virtual debate:

“Resolved: E.S.G. needs – and deserves – a robust, spirited, and informed defense.”

[E.S.G. in the current corporate social responsibility lexicon: ”Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) is a set of considerations, including environmental issues, social issues and corporate governance that can be considered in investing.” Wikipedia]

E.S.G. critics and sceptics now abound. And media helps them flourish.

Here’s one of the many examples: New York Times 2/20/24: “More Wall Street Firms Flip-Flop on Climate Pledges.”

“Wall Street’s retreat from earlier environmental pledges has been on a slow, steady glide path for months, particularly as Republicans began withering political attacks, saying the investment firms were engaging in ‘woke capitalism’ … in the past few weeks things accelerated significantly.”

The story details how three “giants of the financial world” have altered their ESG commitments.


The current corporate social responsibility/sustainability global zeitgeist – and its pillar, E.S.G./socially responsible investing – have evolved significantly over many decades.

(We started tracking it in the Seventies (sic): in “Organizing for Corporate Social Responsibility”,  The Presidents Association, Inc./ American Management Association, Special Study No 51, Winter 1972-1973.)

Long fast-forward to today: In various forms and priorities, many national and international organizations facilitate vast sums of E.S.G. investments annually.

A few of the many formidable organizations that facilitate E.S.G./social responsibility investing today:


“The Ceres Investor Network includes more than 220 institutional investors managing more than $46 trillion in assets. We work with our members to advance sustainable investment practices, engage with corporate leaders, and advocate for key policy and regulatory solutions to accelerate the transition to a just, sustainable, net zero emissions economy. Our global collaborations include Climate Action 100+, The Investor Agenda, the Paris Aligned Asset Owners, and the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative.”

Climate Action 100+

“Climate Action 100+ is an investor-led initiative aiming to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change. Through Climate Action 100+, approximately 700 investors responsible for $68 trillion in assets under management are engaging companies on improving climate change governance, reducing emissions and strengthening climate-related financial disclosures, … to create long-term shareholder value”.

Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility

“Our guiding principle as shareholders is that sustainable corporations must look beyond the next earnings report to account for the full impact of their businesses on society, and must view the well-being of all of their stakeholders …

“An initiative of ICCR, the Investor Alliance, is a collective action platform for responsible investment grounded in respect for people’s fundamental rights. With over 220 institutional members representing over $12T in assets in 20 countries, it builds investors’ capacity to embed human rights into corporate and investor actions …”

United Nation Global Compact

For its vast CSR-committed signatories recommends:

“Integrate the Principles of Responsible Investment”

“Launched in 2006 by UNEP Finance Initiative and the UN Global Compact, the PRI provide a voluntary framework by which all investors can incorporate ESG issues into their decision-making and ownership practices and so better align their objectives with those of society at large. Over 1,500 investment institutions have become signatories, with approximately US$ 62 trillion assets under management.”

Summing up

E.S.G. innovation continues to evolve. One of many examples: A new advance in the “G” portal: “Millions of Fund Investors Are Getting a Voice”

New policies at “three giant fund companies have given scores of millions of investors, with $4.6 trillion in assets, a way of expressing their views on corporate issues…”

One of the investing options being offered is “explicitly for investors who require companies to behave ‘in a socially and environmentally responsible manner’…The changes could greatly affect the alignment of power in the corporate universe.”

A recent summary assessment from Morrison Foerster, a highly respected Austin, Texas national law firm with a specialty In E.S.G. law:

“ESG is not dead – despite all of the noise in the press. ESG and Sustainability—in various forms—have survived, reinforcing its longevity but with more clarity, standardization, transparency, and accountability. It is true that, during 2023, the ESG and sustainability space experienced significant attacks on multiple fronts, increased politicization, and redirected attention from stakeholders. Stakeholders became more interested in how a company stacks up against its claims versus whether it was making ESG considerations at all. Regardless of the headwinds, three predictions from 2022 proved true: ESG regulations multiplied across the globe, industries continued to converge, and fragmentation is waning, positioning specific elements of ESG and Sustainability as priorities for boards, management, and investors for years to come.”

Or, channeling the famous quote attributed to Mark Twain (some say it’s a misquote):

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”