Most corporate leaders understand that businesses have a key role to play in tackling urgent challenges such as climate change. But many of them also believe that pursuing a sustainability agenda runs counter to the wishes of their shareholders. Sure, some heads of large investment firms say they care about sustainability, but in practice, investors, portfolio managers, and sell-side analysts rarely engage corporate executives on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. The impression among business leaders is that ESG just hasn’t gone mainstream in the investment community.
That perception is outdated. We recently interviewed 70 senior executives at 43 global institutional investing firms, including the world’s three biggest asset managers (BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street) and giant asset owners such as the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), and the government pension funds of Japan, Sweden, and the Netherlands. We know of no other research effort that involved so many senior leaders at so many of the largest investment firms. We found that ESG was almost universally top of mind for these executives.
By: Robert G. Eccles & Svetlana Klimenko