ESG discussions up in H1 2021, but social and governance discussions lag, says GlobalData

According to the Filing Analytics platform by GlobalData, corporates broadly discuss the ‘E’ in Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), but the ‘G’ and ‘S’ are lacking. The leading data and analytics company notes, while overall ESG mentions rose 40% in H1 2021 compared to H1 2020, companies mentioned sustainability key phrases such as the ‘environment’, ‘climate change’ and ‘carbon emissions’ in their company filings much more often compared to key words such as ‘social’, ‘governance’, ‘diversity and inclusion’, or ‘workplace diversity’ in 2021.

Rinaldo Pereira, Business Fundamentals Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Companies are not shying away from social issues. Mentions of ESG key words rose drastically in 2020, compared to 2019, due to the rise in discussions around health and safety. Looking at 2021, the focus seems to be on environmental aspects, driven by investor pressure, the COVID-19 pandemic and changing consumer attitudes.”

According to GlobalData, ESG will be the most impactful theme over the next decade. Yet, a survey by GlobalData revealed that only 40%* of respondents believe that their company has changed behavior over the past 12 months to achieve sustainability goals. What’s more, only 17%* of respondents believe that their business is fully committed to sustainability.

Pereira notes: “The pandemic has shown the need for socially focused investment, and jobs around ESG have shown promising signs in 2021. ESG-related job postings are up five fold in July 2021 compared to 2020.

“Themes such as workplace diversity continue lagging behind environmental issues in 2021. Companies continue to be sceptical of sustainability risks. However, firms involved in clearer social and governance initiatives and discussions are likely to turn the heads of investors.”

* Six polls were conducted online between the first week of April and the third week of June 2021. They ran on Verdict, GlobalData’s network of B2B websites that captured overall traffic of 49 million users in the period from 30 June 2020 to 1 July 2021. Poll participants are professionals from more than 30 industries. In total, the six polls received 2,341 responses distributed unequally between each of the polls.

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