Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially aware investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria look at how it manages relationships with staff, suppliers, clients, and the communities where it operates. Governance offers with an organization’s leadership, executive pay, audits, inner controls, and shareholder rights.

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

Buyers (notably youthful generations) have, lately, shown interest in placing their money where their values are. Because of this, brokerage firms and mutual fund corporations have started providing change-traded funds (ETFs) and other 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 embrace a company’s energy use, waste, air pollution, natural resource conservation, and treatment of animals. The criteria also can assist consider any environmental risks an organization would possibly face and how the company is managing these risks.

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


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


About governance, traders might wish to know that a company uses accurate and clear accounting strategies and that stockholders are allowed to vote on vital issues.

They may also need assurances that firms avoid conflicts of curiosity of their selection of board members, don’t use political contributions to acquire unduly favorable treatment and, after all, do not have interaction in illegal practices.

No single company may pass every test in each class, in fact, so traders have to resolve what’s most important to them and do the research.

Special Considerations

On a practical level, funding firms that follow ESG criteria should additionally set priorities. For instance, Boston-primarily based Trillium Asset Management, with $4.eight billion under management as of September 2021, uses a number of ESG factors to assist identify companies positioned for robust lengthy-time period performance.3

Determined in part by analysts who establish points 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 energy, private prisons, agricultural biotechnology, tobacco, tar sands, or weapons and firearms.

Or companies 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, embody:


Companies that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits dangerous pollution and chemicals

Seeks to decrease greenhouse gas emissions

Uses renewable energy sources


Corporations that operate an ethical provide chain

Supports LGBTQ rights and encourages diversity

Has insurance policies to protect against sexual misconduct

Pays honest wages


Corporations that embrace diversity on their board

Embraces corporate transparency

Employs a CEO independent of the board chair

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