Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a corporation’s operations that socially conscious traders 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 employees, suppliers, prospects, and the communities the place it operates. Governance deals with an organization’s leadership, executive pay, audits, inner controls, and shareholder rights.

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

Investors (notably younger generations) have, in recent years, shown curiosity in placing their money where their values are. As a result, brokerage firms and mutual fund corporations 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 could embody a company’s energy use, waste, pollution, natural resource conservation, and therapy of animals. The criteria may assist consider any environmental risks a company would possibly face and how the corporate is managing these risks.

For example, 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 authorities environmental regulations.


Social criteria look on the firm’s business relationships. Does it work with suppliers that hold the identical values as it claims to hold? Does the company donate a proportion 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 employees’ health and safety? Are other stakeholders’ interests taken into consideration?


About governance, investors might wish to know that a company uses accurate and clear accounting methods and that stockholders are allowed to vote on important issues.

They might additionally want assurances that companies avoid conflicts of interest of their selection of board members, don’t use political contributions to acquire unduly favorable remedy and, of course, do not have interaction in illegal practices.

No single firm might pass each test in each category, in fact, so traders must decide what’s most essential to them and do the research.

Special Considerations

On a practical level, investment firms that follow ESG criteria must additionally set priorities. For example, Boston-primarily based Trillium Asset Management, with $4.8 billion under administration as of September 2021, uses a selection of ESG factors to help establish companies positioned for robust lengthy-term performance.three

Determined in part by analysts who establish issues going through completely different sectors and industries, Trillium’s ESG criteria embody avoiding:

Corporations 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 that have main or current controversies with human rights, animal welfare, environmental issues, governance issues, or product safety.

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


Firms that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits dangerous pollutants and chemicals

Seeks to decrease greenhouse gas emissions

Makes use of renewable energy sources


Firms that operate an ethical supply chain

Helps LGBTQ rights and encourages diversity

Has 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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