The discussion around ESG is intensifying with increasing pressure from investors and stakeholders for it to become part of the DNA of integrated reporting, investment analysis and corporate governance.
EY Center for Board Matters has identified six priorities for boards in 2021 on the back of a year of global upheaval and change - of which the fifth is "Guiding an ESG strategy that drives stakeholder engagement and value.
A sustainable-investing surge is underway. Driven by many forces, such as investor demand and increasing recognition that ESG factors can be financially beneficial, record-setting inflows are going to companies deploying ESG investing strategies, and significant growth in ESG-branded funds points to continued momentum.
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In early 2018, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, used his influential annual letter for the global investment community to demand that companies take their social licence to operate seriously. He also called for ‘a new model of shareholder engagement’ that properly integrates ‘environmental, social and governance matters’ in investment. The social dimension for companies of both ESG-sensitive investment analysis and shareholder dialogue about a company’s social and environmental footprints means that dealing with its social licence to operate is a necessity and not simply a voluntary option for any listed company. (REF: https://bit.ly/30ZFdm2)
At this years AICD Governance Summit Brunswick Group Partner Pru Bennett GAICD (formerly Head of Stewardship APAC BlackRock) said all boards needed to lift their game and secure more data and targets around ESG. Her pre summit article "Investors put boards on notice over stronger social governance" is a great read. (REF https://bit.ly/2ONeabd)
In January 2020 a survey of the WOB network found that insufficient attention was being paid to ESG and Climate Risk. The survey produced 15 action items boards can take on ESG. Click here to read the full article.
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