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 corporation’s operations that socially aware buyers use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria look at how it manages relationships with workers, suppliers, prospects, and the communities the place it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

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

Investors (notably younger generations) have, in recent years, shown curiosity in putting their money where their values are. Because of this, brokerage firms and mutual fund firms have started providing exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other financial products that observe 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 may embrace a company’s energy use, waste, air pollution, natural resource conservation, and remedy of animals. The criteria may also help evaluate any environmental risks a company might face and how the corporate is managing those risks.

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


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


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

They could additionally need assurances that corporations keep away from conflicts of curiosity in their choice of board members, do not use political contributions to acquire unduly favorable treatment and, after all, do not interact in illegal practices.

No single firm may pass each test in each class, after all, so investors have to decide what’s most vital to them and do the research.

Particular Considerations

On a practical level, funding firms that comply with ESG criteria should also set priorities. For example, Boston-primarily based Trillium Asset Management, with $4.8 billion under management as of September 2021, uses a collection of ESG factors to help determine companies positioned for sturdy lengthy-term performance.three

Determined in part by analysts who establish points dealing with different sectors and industries, Trillium’s ESG criteria embody avoiding:

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

Or companies which have main or latest controversies with human rights, animal welfare, environmental concerns, governance points, or product safety.

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


Companies that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits dangerous pollutants and chemical substances

Seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Uses renewable energy sources


Corporations that operate an ethical provide chain

Supports LGBTQ rights and encourages diversity

Has insurance policies to protect towards sexual misconduct

Pays fair wages


Companies that embrace diversity on their board

Embraces corporate transparency

Employs a CEO impartial of the board chair

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