Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

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

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

Buyers (notably younger generations) have, in recent times, shown curiosity in placing their cash the place their values are. Because of this, brokerage firms and mutual fund companies have started providing alternate-traded funds (ETFs) and other monetary 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 might include a company’s energy use, waste, pollution, natural resource conservation, and remedy of animals. The criteria can even assist evaluate any environmental risks a company might face and the way the corporate is managing those risks.

For instance, there is perhaps issues related to its ownership of contaminated land, its disposal of hazardous waste, its administration of toxic emissions, or its compliance with authorities environmental regulations.


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


About governance, buyers could want to know that a company uses accurate and clear accounting strategies and that stockholders are allowed to vote on essential issues.

They might additionally want assurances that firms avoid conflicts of curiosity of their selection of board members, don’t use political contributions to obtain unduly favorable remedy and, after all, do not have interaction in illegal practices.

No single company may pass each test in every category, in fact, so buyers must decide what’s most essential to them and do the research.

Particular Considerations

On a practical level, funding firms that observe ESG criteria should additionally set priorities. For instance, Boston-based mostly Trillium Asset Administration, with $4.8 billion under management as of September 2021, uses a collection of ESG factors to assist determine corporations positioned for robust lengthy-term performance.3

Determined in part by analysts who determine issues facing completely different sectors and industries, Trillium’s ESG criteria include avoiding:

Corporations 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 that have main or current controversies with human rights, animal welfare, environmental concerns, 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 pollution and chemicals

Seeks to decrease greenhouse gas emissions

Uses renewable energy sources


Companies that operate an ethical provide chain

Supports LGBTQ rights and encourages diversity

Has policies to protect in opposition to sexual misconduct

Pays honest wages


Corporations that embrace diversity on their board

Embraces corporate transparency

Employs a CEO independent of the board chair