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 traders 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 staff, suppliers, prospects, and the communities the place it operates. Governance deals with an organization’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

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

Buyers (notably youthful generations) have, in recent years, shown curiosity in placing their money the place their values are. Because of this, brokerage firms and mutual fund companies have started providing exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other financial products that follow 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 a company’s energy use, waste, pollution, natural resource conservation, and remedy of animals. The criteria can also assist evaluate any environmental risks a company might face and how the company is managing these risks.

For example, there might be issues related to its ownership of contaminated land, its disposal of hazardous waste, its management of toxic emissions, or its compliance with government environmental regulations.


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


About governance, buyers may wish to know that an organization makes use of accurate and transparent accounting methods and that stockholders are allowed to vote on vital issues.

They could additionally want assurances that companies keep away from conflicts of curiosity in their choice of board members, do not use political contributions to obtain unduly favorable remedy and, in fact, don’t interact in illegal practices.

No single firm could pass each test in every class, after all, so buyers need to resolve what’s most necessary to them and do the research.

Particular Considerations

On a practical level, investment firms that follow ESG criteria should also set priorities. For instance, Boston-primarily based Trillium Asset Administration, with $4.8 billion under management as of September 2021, uses a selection of ESG factors to help determine corporations positioned for robust long-term performance.3

Decided in part by analysts who establish issues going through completely 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 firms that have major or latest controversies with human rights, animal welfare, environmental issues, governance points, or product safety.

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


Firms that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits harmful pollution and chemicals

Seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Uses renewable energy sources


Corporations that operate an ethical supply 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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