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

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

Traders (notably youthful generations) have, in recent years, shown interest in placing their money where their values are. In consequence, brokerage firms and mutual fund firms have started offering change-traded funds (ETFs) and other monetary products that follow 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 could embody an organization’s energy use, waste, pollution, natural resource conservation, and remedy of animals. The criteria can also help evaluate any environmental risks a company may face and the way the company is managing those risks.

For instance, there may be issues associated to its ownership of contaminated land, its disposal of hazardous waste, its administration of toxic emissions, or its compliance with government environmental regulations.


Social criteria look on the company’s enterprise relationships. Does it work with suppliers that hold the same values as it claims to hold? Does the company donate a share 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 staff’ health and safety? Are different stakeholders’ pursuits taken under consideration?


About governance, buyers could wish to know that an organization uses accurate and clear accounting methods and that stockholders are allowed to vote on essential issues.

They might also want assurances that firms avoid conflicts of curiosity of their selection of board members, don’t use political contributions to obtain unduly favorable treatment and, of course, do not interact in illegal practices.

No single company could pass every test in every category, of course, so investors must decide what’s most essential to them and do the research.

Special Considerations

On a practical level, funding firms that observe ESG criteria should also set priorities. For example, Boston-based mostly Trillium Asset Management, with $4.8 billion under management as of September 2021, uses a number of ESG factors to help establish corporations positioned for robust lengthy-time period performance.three

Determined in part by analysts who identify points facing totally different sectors and industries, Trillium’s ESG criteria include avoiding:

Companies that operate in higher-risk areas or have exposure to coal or hard rock mining, nuclear or coal power, 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 concerns, governance points, or product safety.

Things that Trillium seeks out or considers positive ESG criteria, include:


Companies that put out carbon or sustainability reports

Limits harmful pollutants and chemicals

Seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Uses renewable energy sources


Firms that operate an ethical provide chain

Supports LGBTQ rights and encourages diversity

Has insurance policies to protect against sexual misconduct

Pays fair wages


Firms that embrace diversity on their board

Embraces corporate transparency

Employs a CEO unbiased of the board chair

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