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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 investors 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, inner controls, and shareholder rights.

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

Buyers (notably younger generations) have, in recent years, shown curiosity in putting their money where their values are. As a result, brokerage firms and mutual fund corporations have started offering alternate-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 include an organization’s energy use, waste, pollution, natural resource conservation, and remedy of animals. The criteria also can help consider any environmental risks a company would possibly face and how the company is managing those risks.

For instance, there might be 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 local community or encourage workers to perform volunteer work there? Do the company’s working conditions show high regard for its staff’ health and safety? Are different stakeholders’ interests taken into consideration?


About governance, traders may want to know that a company uses accurate and clear accounting methods and that stockholders are allowed to vote on necessary issues.

They might also want assurances that corporations keep away from conflicts of curiosity of their alternative of board members, don’t use political contributions to acquire unduly favorable treatment and, after all, don’t engage in illegal practices.

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

Special Considerations

On a practical level, funding firms that observe ESG criteria should also set priorities. For example, Boston-based Trillium Asset Management, with $4.8 billion under administration as of September 2021, makes use of a collection of ESG factors to assist identify firms positioned for robust long-term performance.3

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

Companies 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 corporations which have main or latest controversies with human rights, animal welfare, environmental considerations, governance issues, or product safety.

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


Firms that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits dangerous pollutants and chemicals

Seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Makes use of renewable energy sources


Companies that operate an ethical supply chain

Supports LGBTQ rights and encourages diversity

Has insurance policies to protect in opposition to sexual misconduct

Pays honest wages


Firms that embrace diversity on their board

Embraces corporate transparency

Employs a CEO independent of the board chair

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