Monday, January 13, 2020

ESG Experts Predict Big Change in 2020

2020 is here and with it predictions for what is in store from an ESG perspective. Will this be the year we finally see a groundswell of investors pushing companies for ESG disclosure? Will millennials’ purchasing decisions continue to be swayed by sustainable practices? Will more companies take stands on critical public policy issues such as gun control and reproductive choice?

Here are my predictions:
  •          We will see more and more restaurants and food companies add plant-based options to their menus.
  • ESG rankings and ratings will see more consolidation and face more pressure as investors carry out their own ESG research and engage directly with companies for information. At the same time, CR/sustainability professionals will forge closer bonds with their investor relations colleagues. 
  •         In the U.S., we will see more focus from NGOs on corporate political spending governance and disclosure in the run-up to the November elections.

Let’s hear from other ESG experts on what they foresee in the next 12 months. I asked a dozen to share their thoughts. Here is what they predict.

“An exponentially increased focus on ESG investing which will bring greater scrutiny to data, performance, transparency, communications and the efficacy of reporting frameworks such as GRI, SASB and TCFD.”  – Jane Madden, Managing Director, Finn Partners

“The EU will use leading legislation to steer its economy(ies) further in the interest of workers, citizens and society at large, and the environment.” Sarah Bostwick Stromoski, Manager, CEO & Investor Engagement, Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP)

“Companies [will] respond to millennials’ desire to have less, but good quality (reusables, fewer air flights, fewer car purchases).” Judy Sandford, Managing Director of CSR and Sustainability, Addison

"We are going to see an explosion of companies ramping up their sustainability efforts (and communicating them) because of the increased alarm over the lack of action on our climate commitments combined with an increase in scrutiny. Will be a perfect storm that will help to tilt us in the right direction.” Phillip Haid, Co-Founder & CEO, PUBLIC Inc.

“Investor interest in connecting the dots between business value and ESG factors will continue to escalate while businesses face the fact that we will now be 10 short years away from being able to avoid the worst impact of a changed climate.” – Aman Singh, Senior Director of Sustainability Communications, Corporate Reports

“Continued business trend to commit to ‘Carbon net zero’ in 2-3 years’ time. [Businesses will move] From sustainability strategy to sustainable business strategy. [Increased] Focus on intersection of ‘digital’ with ‘sustainable.’” –  Thomas Scheiwiller, Founder and Owner, Scheiwiller Impacts 

“Trends in 2020 -- Climate action and collective action.” –  Melissa Orozco, Founder, Yulu Public Relations

“Relevant stakeholders, such as consumers, investors and governments, are growing reticent to accept private-sector sustainability claims at face value. From the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigating the veracity of some ESG funds, to ongoing skepticism that the Business Roundtable will back up its new purpose statement with action, it's clear that words alone won't cut it anymore. This is a trend that's already bubbling under the surface and may well reach a fever pitch in 2020 and beyond.” -- Mary Mazzoni, Senior Editor,, and Managing editor, CR Magazine

Have predictions of your own? Send them in via the comments button below.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog, which will explore ESG wishes for 2020. 

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