Are environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs created to foster change, or are they for publicity & branding?

1.1k views5 Comments

CIO and Startup Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
There are still a lot of folks doing ESG because it's the buzzword that's going to get them the investment, or the trust. And I wonder how many are doing it because they truly believe that climate change is real, and that they have to do something about it because they can.

So I have a bit of skepticism about the true nature of all of these ESG initiatives and the focus on corporate responsibility. I do see a lot of impact when I look at the climate pledge and the bigger initiatives that some of the very large tech companies have kicked off. But we still have a long way to go before ESG is part of the norm.
Director, IT in Software, 201 - 500 employees
Does it matter whether companies truly value sustainability, or are just checking off boxes to use it as a branding ploy? Because it's often a combination of the two. From a branding perspective, if three companies are becoming more sustainable and they're focusing more on that all the time, but one of them isn't doing so in earnest, then they won’t do as much business. They might even be martyred in the news. If these governing bodies are forcing companies to think more about their long-term impact on the environment, that's what's most important.
Director of Product Engineering & IT in Software, 51 - 200 employees
As the famous meme goes: "Why not both?"

If the results of the program is that the world is made a slightly better place and even if the motives for that program were to simply "look good" to younger generations that prioritize this then at the end of the day the world is still a better place.  

The one caveat I would say is if the ESG program is purely for show (i.e. greenwashing) then it will likely backfire on the company because consumers & industry press will eventually uncover that bad faith attempt and it will hurt the company's image more than if they had done nothing at all. 
Director of IT in Software, 10,001+ employees
what we see today is virtue signaling in the name of ESG.
Legal Operations Counsel & Innovation Strategist in Services (non-Government), 10,001+ employees
There are legitimate ESG programs, and there are organizations engaged in greenwashing. I believe the former should provide transparent and credible metrics and reporting (for example, an annual sustainability or corporate responsibility report with accurate, reliable, and verifiable data).

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