Probably the most frequently mentioned quote I’ve heard during this pandemic is by Lenin, "There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen". Clearly, 2020 has dramatically escalated business transformation – both in terms of challenges and opportunities.
There are lively discussions going on, centered on improving publicly-traded company disclosure and reporting – and especially ESG reporting…that is, storytelling about the company’s “non-financials” (in accounting-speak).
The proliferation of ESG / sustainability reporting frameworks, standards, information platforms, industry guidance, stock exchange guidance and much more has been astounding in recent years.
The roots of today’s “sustainable investing” approaches go back decades; the organizing principle often was often around what investors viewed as “socially responsible”, “ethical”, “faith-based” and “values” investing. “SRI” over time evolved into the more dominant sustainable or ESG investing in the 21st Century -- with many more mainstream investors today embracing the approach.
Dislocations resulting from the pandemic shine a light on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, which can be used as an additional tool to identify leading companies from the laggards, according to Franklin Templeton’s Global Head of ESG, Julie Moret. She explains why she believes the pandemic has propelled “S” issues to the forefront, and how this environment could cultivate a fertile backdrop for active management.