Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a corporation’s operations that socially acutely aware buyers use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria study how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, prospects, and the communities where 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

Traders (notably younger generations) have, in recent years, shown curiosity in placing their money the place their values are. As a result, brokerage firms and mutual fund corporations have started offering change-traded funds (ETFs) and different 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, pollution, natural resource conservation, and remedy of animals. The criteria also can help evaluate any environmental risks a company may face and how the corporate is managing these risks.

For instance, there is perhaps points associated to its ownership of contaminated land, its disposal of hazardous waste, its administration of toxic emissions, or its compliance with government environmental regulations.


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


About governance, investors could need to know that a company makes use of accurate and transparent accounting strategies and that stockholders are allowed to vote on necessary issues.

They may also need assurances that companies avoid conflicts of curiosity of their choice of board members, do not use political contributions to acquire unduly favorable therapy and, after all, don’t engage in illegal practices.

No single firm may pass each test in every category, after all, so investors need to determine what’s most essential to them and do the research.

Special Considerations

On a practical level, investment firms that comply with ESG criteria must additionally set priorities. For instance, Boston-based Trillium Asset Administration, with $4.8 billion under management as of September 2021, uses a selection of ESG factors to assist establish corporations positioned for sturdy lengthy-term performance.3

Decided in part by analysts who establish points facing totally different sectors and industries, Trillium’s ESG criteria embrace avoiding:

Corporations 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, embrace:


Corporations that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits harmful pollutants and chemicals

Seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Uses renewable energy sources


Firms that operate an ethical provide chain

Supports 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 independent of the board chair

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