Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially aware investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with staff, suppliers, customers, and the communities the place it operates. Governance deals with an organization’s leadership, executive pay, audits, inside controls, and shareholder rights.

How Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria Work

Buyers (notably younger generations) have, in recent years, shown interest in placing their cash the place their values are. As a result, brokerage firms and mutual fund companies have started offering exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other financial products that comply with ESG criteria.

Types of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

There are three key parts to ESG investing—the environmental, social, and governance aspects.


Environmental criteria might embody an organization’s energy use, waste, air pollution, natural resource conservation, and remedy of animals. The criteria also can assist evaluate any environmental risks a company might face and the way the company is managing those risks.

For instance, there could be issues associated to its ownership of contaminated land, its disposal of hazardous waste, its administration of poisonous emissions, or its compliance with authorities environmental regulations.


Social criteria look at the company’s enterprise relationships. Does it work with suppliers that hold the same values as it claims to hold? Does the company donate a percentage of its profits to the native community or encourage staff to perform volunteer work there? Do the company’s working conditions show high regard for its staff’ health and safety? Are different stakeholders’ interests taken into consideration?


About governance, buyers may want to know that a company uses accurate and clear accounting methods and that stockholders are allowed to vote on important issues.

They may also want assurances that firms keep away from conflicts of curiosity of their alternative of board members, don’t use political contributions to acquire unduly favorable remedy and, after all, do not interact in illegal practices.

No single firm could pass every test in every class, of course, so traders must determine what’s most essential to them and do the research.

Special Considerations

On a practical level, funding firms that observe ESG criteria should additionally set priorities. For example, Boston-primarily based Trillium Asset Management, with $4.8 billion under management as of September 2021, uses a number of ESG factors to assist establish companies positioned for sturdy long-term performance.3

Decided in part by analysts who determine points facing completely different sectors and industries, Trillium’s ESG criteria include avoiding:

Companies that operate in higher-risk areas or have publicity to coal or hard rock mining, nuclear or coal energy, private prisons, agricultural biotechnology, tobacco, tar sands, or weapons and firearms.

Or corporations which have major or recent controversies with human rights, animal welfare, environmental concerns, governance issues, or product safety.

Things that Trillium seeks out or considers positive ESG criteria, embody:


Corporations that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits harmful pollution and chemical compounds

Seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Uses renewable energy sources


Corporations that operate an ethical provide chain

Helps LGBTQ rights and encourages diversity

Has policies to protect in opposition to sexual misconduct

Pays truthful wages


Corporations that embrace diversity on their board

Embraces corporate transparency

Employs a CEO unbiased of the board chair

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