Environmental Social Governance  

The acronym ESG stands for ‘Environmental, Social and Governance' which refers to three factors measuring the sustainability and the ethical impact of investing in a company by evaluating corporate behaviour. Financial assets tend to be placed where the largest return is predicted, however there are a number of different criteria that can affect your decision. There seems to be a positive trend in ESG based decisions and the necessity of sustainability conscious investments have become a practicality in long term investments.

Over time, it has become apparent that fossil fuel dependant companies have become less attractive as people deinvest in them and look for more environmentally friendly alternatives to effectively participate in the battle against climate change. Also, as the planet has a diminishing source of fossil fuels and raw materials, with the knowledge that these will one day run out, investing long term in a company that relies upon them is could be problematic in the future when they struggle to continue their business because of a shortage of material. Investors are even beginning to look at how a company deals with waste products and pollution. Your choice of investment can be a source of activism upon your own values; by investing in a more environmentally friendly company you will be supporting sustainable business and creating a greener portfolio.
The social factor deals with issues such as diversity, human rights and animal welfare. From the perspective of making a profit on an investment, there is a general belief that the more diversity inclusive a company is when employing new staff, the greater chance there is that they will find the perfect person to fill that position, and therefore can push towards a greater financial return. More from an ethics point of view, this also battles social problems such as racism and sexism. The consumer's growing concern of how animals are treated in business, from animal testing to the quality of life for animals bred for consumption, has had an effect on where investments are being placed and companies with more ethical treatment towards animals are often seen as more favourable as those with less morals in this area. Some investors will also look at the suppliers and partners for the company to see if they are operating with the same social values.
The corporate governance covers more internal issues such as the structure of management, employee relations, and how staff are generally treated. Also, as there is an increasing demand for people in high positions of large companies to be publicly listing their bonus payments and incentives as investors want to see that everybody in the company is being treated fairly. Transparency and accuracy are becoming increasingly valuable in today's market.
By following these criteria an investor is practicing responsible investment, and by keeping these factors in mind you can start to develop your portfolio far beyond merely making a monetary profit. By protecting these factors we can make a positive change to our planet, both environmentally and socially, and protect sustainable business by ensuring its ability to continue in the rapidly developing conditions that we live in.
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