Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially acutely aware 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 staff, suppliers, prospects, and the communities the place it operates. Governance offers with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, inner controls, and shareholder rights.

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

Buyers (notably youthful generations) have, in recent times, shown interest in putting their money where their values are. In consequence, brokerage firms and mutual fund firms have started offering change-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 embody an organization’s energy use, waste, pollution, natural resource conservation, and therapy of animals. The criteria may also assist consider any environmental risks a company might face and the way 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 management of toxic emissions, or its compliance with government environmental regulations.


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


About governance, traders might wish to know that an organization makes use of accurate and transparent accounting strategies and that stockholders are allowed to vote on important issues.

They could additionally need assurances that corporations avoid conflicts of interest of their alternative of board members, do not use political contributions to obtain unduly favorable remedy and, in fact, do not have interaction in illegal practices.

No single firm might pass every test in each category, after all, so investors must resolve what’s most vital to them and do the research.

Particular Considerations

On a practical level, investment firms that comply with ESG criteria should additionally set priorities. For example, Boston-primarily based Trillium Asset Management, with $4.eight billion under administration as of September 2021, uses a number of ESG factors to assist determine corporations positioned for strong long-term performance.3

Decided in part by analysts who identify issues going through different sectors and industries, Trillium’s ESG criteria embrace avoiding:

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

Or corporations that have major 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, include:


Firms that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits harmful pollution and chemical substances

Seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Uses renewable energy sources


Companies that operate an ethical supply chain

Helps LGBTQ rights and encourages diversity

Has policies to protect against sexual misconduct

Pays fair wages


Companies that embrace diversity on their board

Embraces corporate transparency

Employs a CEO independent of the board chair

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