What is ESG Meaning ? A Brief Defination & ESG Full Form

esg meaning

ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance, and refers to the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business. The concept of ESG has gained widespread attention and adoption in recent years, as more and more investors and companies have become interested in the social and environmental impacts of their investments.

The origins of ESG can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when concerns about the environmental impacts of industry were first starting to emerge. In the following decades, the concept of socially responsible investing (SRI) began to gain traction, with investors increasingly considering the social and ethical implications of their investments.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the focus on ESG expanded to include governance considerations, as the importance of corporate governance and transparency in business became more widely recognized. Today, ESG is a key consideration for many investors and companies, and there are a growing number of indices and ratings systems that measure the ESG performance of different investments.

The importance of ESG analysis in the investment process is on the rise. Gaining a deeper understanding of the businesses they invest in is a major driver for investment professionals to examine environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues as part of their financial analyses.

What Is Esg Meaning ?

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What Is ESG Investing?

Environmental, Social, and Governance is the abbreviation for ESG. Investors are using these non-financial aspects more frequently as part of their analytical process to spot important dangers and expansion prospects. Although firms are increasingly disclosing information in their annual report or in a separate sustainability report, ESG measures are not frequently included in required financial reporting. Numerous organisations are working to create standards and define materiality to make it easier to incorporate these factors into the investment process, including the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Why has environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing become more popular, and what does it entail for the financial sector? To find out more, look through our ESG Investing Guide.

esg meaning

What are the 3 pillars of ESG?

The three pillars of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) are used to measure the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business. Here is a brief overview of each pillar:

  1. Environmental: This pillar refers to the impact that a company or investment has on the environment. This can include issues such as carbon emissions, resource depletion, and waste management.
  2. Social: This pillar refers to the impact that a company or investment has on society, including issues such as labor practices, human rights, and community relations.
  3. Governance: This pillar refers to the way a company is managed and governed, including issues such as executive pay, board diversity, and transparency.

In general, companies or investments that score well on ESG factors are considered to be more sustainable and ethically responsible. Many investors and asset managers now incorporate ESG considerations into their investment decisions, and there are a growing number of indices and ratings systems that measure the ESG performance of different investments.

What are ESG examples?

Here are a few examples of how the three pillars of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) can be applied:


  • A company reduces its carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy sources and implementing energy-efficient practices.
  • An investment fund divests from companies that engage in environmentally destructive practices, such as deforestation or pollution.


  • A company implements fair labor practices, such as paying a living wage and providing safe working conditions.
  • An investment fund avoids investing in companies that have a history of violating human rights, such as those involved in child labor or forced labor.


  • A company has a diverse board of directors and implements strong corporate governance policies, such as separating the roles of CEO and chairman.
  • An investment fund avoids investing in companies that have a history of financial misconduct or poor governance practices, such as insider trading or fraud.

What is the main purpose of ESG?

The main purpose of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) is to evaluate the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business. By considering these three pillars, investors and companies can assess the potential risks and opportunities associated with a particular investment, and make informed decisions about whether or not to invest in a company.

The goal of ESG is to promote sustainable and responsible business practices, and to encourage companies to consider the long-term impacts of their actions on the environment, society, and the economy. By considering ESG factors, investors and companies can ensure that their investments align with their values and contribute to a more sustainable future.

In addition to helping investors and companies make informed decisions, ESG can also help to drive positive change in the business world. By considering ESG in their investment decisions, investors can incentivize companies to adopt more sustainable and responsible practices, which can help to address a range of social and environmental issues.

KPI stands for key performance indicator, and in the context of ESG (environmental, social, and governance), it refers to specific metrics or targets that are used to measure the performance of a company or investment in relation to its ESG impact.

There are a wide variety of KPIs that can be used to measure the ESG performance of a company or investment, and the specific KPIs that are used will depend on the particular focus of the company or investment and the specific ESG issues that are relevant.

Some common ESG KPIs include:

  1. Carbon emissions: This KPI measures the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted by a company or investment.
  2. Water usage: This KPI measures the amount of water that is used by a company or investment.
  3. Diversity and inclusion: This KPI measures the representation of diverse groups, such as women and minorities, within a company or investment.
  4. Labor practices: This KPI measures the treatment of workers within a company or investment, including issues such as fair wages, safe working conditions, and the absence of forced labor.

By tracking these and other ESG KPIs, investors and companies can gauge their performance and identify areas for improvement in order to make more sustainable and responsible investment decisions.

ESG (environmental, social, and governance) is a concept that is relevant to companies of all sizes and in all industries. Many companies around the world have adopted ESG principles and are taking steps to measure and improve their ESG performance.

Some examples of companies that have made a commitment to ESG include:

  • Patagonia: This outdoor clothing company has a long history of prioritizing sustainability and has implemented a range of ESG initiatives, including reducing its carbon footprint, using recycled materials in its products, and supporting environmental conservation efforts.
  • Unilever: This consumer goods company has made a commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy and to halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It has also implemented a range of ESG initiatives, including promoting sustainable agriculture and improving the lives of smallholder farmers.
  • Microsoft: This technology company has made a commitment to become carbon negative by 2030 and to remove all of the carbon it has emitted since it was founded in 1975. It has also implemented a range of ESG initiatives, including increasing the diversity of its workforce and promoting responsible supply chain practices.

These are just a few examples of the many companies around the world that are using ESG principles to guide their business practices and drive positive change.

Key ESG Factors

ESG factors don’t have a clear classification. It might be difficult to categorise an ESG issue as just an environmental, social, or governance concern because ESG components are frequently interconnected, as demonstrated in the example below.

The employee turnover rate for a company, for example, can be measured, but it can be challenging to put a monetary value on these ESG  elements (e.g., what the cost of employee turnover for a company is).


Conservation of the natural world

  • Climate change and carbon emissions
  • Air and water pollution
  • Biodiversity
  • Deforestation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Waste management
  • Water scarcity


Consideration of people & relationships

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Data protection and privacy
  • Gender and diversity
  • Employee engagement
  • Community relations
  • Human rights
  • Labor standards


Standards for running a company

  • Board composition
  • Audit committee structure
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Executive compensation
  • Lobbying
  • Political contributions
  • Whistleblower schemes

ESG Metrics

Different ESG metrics are not calculated or presented using a defined methodology. Investors can handle ESG factors using a number of analytical techniques and data sources, including weighting based on client interest and potential value. A more full picture of ESG risks and opportunities can be formed by comprehending the relative advantages and limitations of various indicators.

esg meaning

What Are Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria?

Investors that value social responsibility often utilise environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards to evaluate possible investments. Environmental criteria take into account a company’s environmental protection efforts, such as corporate climate change policies. The management of relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, and the communities in which it operates is examined under the social criteria. Leadership, executive compensation, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights are all topics covered by governance.

Esg Key Lessons

  • Investments are screened using environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in order to support ethical business practises.
  • These days, there are numerous robo-advisors, brokerage houses, and mutual funds that provide investing products that use ESG criteria.

  • Investors can avoid investing losses by using ESG criteria when corporations that participate in risky or unethical actions are held accountable.

  • There have been allegations that firms have been dishonest or misleading in their promotion of their ESG accomplishments as a result of the recent rapid expansion of ESG investment funds.

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

In recent years, investors have demonstrated an interest in placing their money where their ideals are.

As a result, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other financial products that adhere to ESG criteria are now being offered by brokerage firms and mutual fund companies. Younger investors have been encouraged to invest in these ESG-themed services by robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront.

Large institutional investors, such public pension funds, are increasingly shaping their investment decisions based on ESG considerations. Investors held $17.1 trillion in assets chosen based on ESG criteria at the end of 2019, up from $12 trillion just two years earlier, according to the most recent data from the US SIF Foundation.

ESG investment is also known as socially conscious investing, impact investing, sustainable investing, and responsible investing (SRI). Investors evaluate a firm using a wide range of practises and policies to see how it performs in terms of ESG.

Types of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria

ESG investors want to make sure the businesses they fund are decent corporate citizens, accountable managers, and responsible stewards of the environment.


Corporate climate policy, energy use, waste generation, pollution, preservation of natural resources, and treatment of animals are a few examples of environmental criteria. The criteria can also be used to assess any potential environmental concerns that a business may face and how it is addressing those risks.

Direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, toxic waste management, and adherence to environmental rules are only a few things to take into account.


The company’s ties with stakeholders are examined by social standards.

Does it enforce its own ESG requirements on its suppliers? Does the business encourage staff to volunteer in the neighborhood or donate a portion of its income there?

Do working circumstances demonstrate a great regard for the health and safety of employees? Or does the business use its clients in an unethical way?


ESG governance guidelines make sure that a business employs correct and open accounting practices, selects its executives with integrity and diversity in mind, and is answerable to shareholders.

ESG investors could demand guarantees that businesses don’t choose board members and top executives who have conflicts of interest, don’t utilize political donations to get special treatment, or don’t engage in criminal activity.

Environmental, Social, And Governance (Esg) Criteria: Advantages And Disadvantages

In the past, it was believed that the socially conscious investor sacrificed part of their own interests by avoiding certain investments due to non-financial factors. After all, industries like cigarettes and defense, which many ESG investors avoid, have historically generated returns on the market that are far above average.

More recently, some have claimed that ESG standards, in addition to their social value, might protect investors from crises that arise when businesses acting in a dangerous or unethical way are finally held responsible for its repercussions. Examples include the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil leak caused by BP (BP) and the massive financial loss caused by Volkswagen’s emissions scandal.

Investment firms are monitoring the performance of ESG-conscious company practices more and more. Companies in the financial services industry, like JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Goldman Sachs (GS), have released annual reports that go in-depth on their ESG strategies and financial performance.

Whether ESG standards motivate businesses to effect genuine change for the general good or just push them to check boxes and publish reports will determine their eventual value.

Whether the investment flows adhere to ESG standards that are feasible, observable, and actionable will depend on that in turn.

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