The ESG Debate: Where Does Your Company Stand?

University of Oxford and Protiviti global survey reports that North American companies are less committed to ESG than their counterparts in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The questions are why this disparity exists, and where does your organisation stand?

The Oxford and Protiviti survey findings suggest that North American companies may be underrating the importance of external pressures — stakeholder expectations and regulatory commitment — that appear to be key drivers for companies in other parts of the world. The distinction relating to stakeholder concerns is likely underpinned by the predominance of the Friedman doctrine in the United States over a period of 50 years, notwithstanding the recent Business Roundtable Statement. North American respondents also may be influenced more significantly by a growing number of environmental, social and governance (ESG) critics whose messaging makes it difficult to understand the true meaning of the concept.

This article takes a look at the general themes advanced by these critics. Our intent in presenting these themes is to frame both sides of the debate — the criticism and the counterpoint. After laying out the general themes of this complex and nuanced discussion, we offer two takeaways — one for policymakers and the other for organisations. For policymakers, we suggest the need for a thoughtful, nonpartisan public policy dialogue. For organisations, we recommend that boards and their CEOs challenge their leaders in a constructive manner with a long-term focus on appropriate sustainability objectives while keeping an eye toward delivering expected financial results.

For more about the ESG debate, read the full article here.

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