What Is ESG?
December 2, 2022

What Is ESG?

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) provides a way for business to assess their practices and ensure that they are operating in a socially responsible and sustainable way.

What does ESG stand for?

Environmental, Social, and Governance.

The term “ESG” stands for environmental, social, and governance. These three categories measure an organisation’s impact on society and the surrounding world. ESG is an emerging trend as organisations and investors increasingly prioritise companies that positively impact the world through their social, environmental and governance actions. 

What is ESG?

In simple terms, ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. It is a set of categories used to evaluate a company's sustainability, ethical business model, and performance.

What are ESG examples?

  1. Social: child labour, working conditions, human rights 
  2. Environmental: pollution, climate change, water scarcity 
  3. Governance: bribery, corruption, executive compensation 

Beyond the three categories, ESG also includes the following subcategories: 

  1. Stakeholder engagement: community relations, customer satisfaction 
  2. Employee relations: diversity, inclusion, safety 
  3. Product safety: food safety, product recalls, animal welfare 
  4. Data privacy: data security, data breaches, cyber threats 
  5. Financial: predatory lending, credit rating manipulation, insider trading 
  6. Ethics: fraud, money laundering, animal testing 
  7. Sustainability: renewable energy, resource conservation, green building

What is the purpose of ESG?

The purpose of ESG is to promote sustainable, responsible and ethical practices within businesses. In Deloitte's, view, the goal of ESG is to capture all the non-financial risks and opportunities inherent to a company's day-to-day activities.

What are the three Pillars of ESG?

Environment: The environmental pillar focuses on a company's environmental impact. This can include a company's carbon footprint, water usage, and waste management. Companies should work towards having a positive impact on the environment and incorporate sustainable and green practices into their business model. For example, investing in renewable energy, carbon offsetting initiatives, and employees packaging. 

Social: The social pillar focuses on a company's impact on its people and the wider society. This includes a company's employee policies, diversity, and community engagement. Organisations should display positive social standards beyond the legal requirements. 

Governance: The governance pillar focuses on a company's internal management and its organisational culture. This includes a company's board structure, executive compensation, and shareholder rights.

What is the ESG framework?

The ESG framework is a set of environmental, social, and governance indicators that a company can use to assess their sustainability performance in these pillars. There are a variety of different ESG frameworks that various organisations have developed. The most commonly used frameworks are the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SABS), the International Integrated Reporting Board, and the CDB. There is no universal framework, so it can be challenging to compare businesses accurately, but the most important thing is that businesses adhere to one to ensure legitimacy.

What is ESG data?

ESG data measures a company's ESG performance. This data can come from various sources, including financial data, news reports, and surveys.

Why is ESG important?

  • Increased risk management: Implementing ESG frameworks can be used to identify any potential risks and opportunities that have not been apparent previously. This can help the organisation to manage risks and explore opportunities. 
  • Improved financial performance: Companies that integrate ESG into their business operations outperform those that do not. 
  • Enhanced long-term value creation: Integrating ESG can help add value by allowing companies to focus on sustainability, improving their competitive advantage.
  • Enhanced reputation: Companies that display ESG standards gain improved public opinion, customer loyalty, and employee morale. 
  • Increased corporate governance: ESG factors identify any corporate governance issues and help ensure that the company is acting in accordance with its values.
  • Environmental benefits: Incorporating ESG practices ensures that the organisation is not causing harm to the environment and holds them accountable for their environmental actions. 

What are ESG criteria?

The ESG criteria are set to benefit society beyond economic means. Each measure comes with a set of issues. To improve their ESG scores, businesses must go above what is acceptable and take action to remedy any identified issues. 

Environmental: This criterion addresses the risks and harm caused by a corporation to the environment. Environmental criteria addresses: Climate change and carbon emissions reduction, energy efficiency, water scarcity, pollution, waste management, deforestation and biodiversity protection and loss. 

Social criteria: This criterion aims to improve the well-being of stakeholders and the wider community, such as customers, employees, the local community and suppliers. Companies must ensure fundamental human rights are being met and foster a positive culture and healthy working conditions. This includes monitoring: Human rights, labour standards, customer satisfaction, privacy, gender equality, diversity, employee engagement, and community relations. 

Governance Criteria: This criterion involves business leaders and internal structures acting in accordance with ethical standards. This includes procedures for selecting a diverse board of directors, abiding by corporate standards, disclosing executive salaries to the public, and handling conflicts of interest fairly. Organisations should strictly avoid bribery, corruption, lobbying and unhealthy politics. 

What is ESG investing?

ESG investing is an investment strategy that consider environmental, social, and governance factors when making investment decisions. The goal of ESG investing is to create a positive social and environmental impact while generating financial returns. ESG investing is often used to evaluate companies for investment, as it can help identify leaders in sustainable and responsible business practices. It can also help investors avoid companies involved in activities that could harm society or the environment. 

What are the benefits of ESG in an organisation?

1. Increased awareness of environmental, social, and governance issues 

2. Improved communication and engagement with stakeholders 

3. Enhanced risk management and identification of opportunities

4. Increased access to capital 

5. Improved reputation and brand 

6. Attraction and retention of talented employees

7. Enhanced employee morale and engagement 

8. Increased customer loyalty 

9. Increased innovation 

10. Increased competitiveness



ESG is an emerging trend in the corporate world. As more investors become aware of their impact on the ESG, they are increasingly looking to incorporate ethical considerations into their portfolios. With the growing demand for ESG investments, companies must be prepared to provide clear and accurate ESG data to investors so that they can make informed decisions. By embracing ESG, companies can position themselves to benefit from the expanding ESG demand and unlock meaningful value for the company.