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Introduction to ESG

environmental corporate governance essay

Mark S. Bergman ,  Ariel J. Deckelbaum , and Brad S. Karp are partners at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. This post is based on a recent Paul Weiss memorandum by Mr. Bergman, Mr. Deckelbaum, Mr. Karp,  David Curran ,  Jeh Charles Johnson , and Loretta E. Lynch . Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes The Illusory Promise of Stakeholder Governance by Lucian A. Bebchuk and Roberto Tallarita (discussed on the Forum here ) and Socially Responsible Firms by Alan Ferrell, Hao Liang, and Luc Renneboog (discussed on the Forum here ).

Interest on the part of investors and other corporate stakeholders in environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) matters has surged in recent years, and the current economic, public health and social justice crises have only intensified this focus. ESG, at its core, is a means by which companies can be evaluated with respect to a broad range of socially desirable ends. ESG describes a set of factors used to measure the non-financial impacts of particular investments and companies. At the same time, ESG also provides a range of business and investment opportunities.

Net flows into ESG funds available to U.S. investors have skyrocketed, totalling $20.6 billion in 2019, nearly four times the previous annual record set in 2018, [1] while ESG funds in Europe also attracted record inflows of $132 billion in 2019. [2] More than 70% of funds focused on ESG investments outperformed their counterparts in the first four months of 2020, [3] and nearly 60% of ESG funds outperformed the wider market over the past decade. [4] Consumers and investors are placing a growing value on ESG, and industry leaders have responded in a number of ways, including issuing comprehensive sustainability reports and expanding ESG disclosures in their annual reports, providing information to ESG rating agencies and publicly communicating ESG commitments.

This post, the first in a series focused on ESG disclosure and regulatory developments, provides an introduction to ESG and identifies several critical issues for companies and their in-house counsel to keep in mind in evaluating and monitoring ESG actions and statements.

The Fundamentals of ESG

ESG grew out of investment philosophies clustered around sustainability and, thereafter, socially responsible investing. Early efforts focused on “screening out” (that is, excluding) companies from portfolios largely due to environmental, social or governance concerns, while more recently ESG has favorably distinguished companies that are making positive contributions to the elements of ESG, premised on treating environmental and social issues as core elements of strategic positioning. While climate figures prominently in ESG discussions, there is no single list of ESG goals or examples, and ESG concepts often overlap. That being said, the three categories of ESG are increasingly integrated into investment analysis, processes and decision-making.

  • The “E” captures energy efficiencies, carbon footprints, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, biodiversity, climate change and pollution mitigation, waste management and water usage.
  • The “S” covers labor standards, wages and benefits, workplace and board diversity, racial justice, pay equity, human rights, talent management, community relations, privacy and data protection, health and safety, supply-chain management and other human capital and social justice issues.
  • The “G” covers the governing of the “E” and the “S” categories—corporate board composition and structure, strategic sustainability oversight and compliance, executive compensation, political contributions and lobbying, and bribery and corruption.

ESG metrics have evolved in recent years to measure risk as well as opportunity. In his “Dear CEO” letter in 2018, BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink wrote that:

[s]ociety is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.

He goes on to say that:

Companies must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment? Are we working to create a diverse workforce? Are we adapting to technological change? Are we providing the retraining and opportunities that our employees and our business will need to adjust to an increasingly automated world? Are we using behavioral finance and other tools to prepare workers for retirement, so that they invest in a way that will help them achieve their goals? [5]

Other leading business leaders have also supported more expansive views regarding the purpose of a corporation. In August 2019, the Business Roundtable, a non-profit organization comprised of corporate CEOs, released a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation (the “BRT Statement”). [6] The BRT Statement was signed by the CEOs of nearly 200 leading U.S. companies and identified shareholders as one of five key stakeholders—along with customers, workers, suppliers and communities. The BRT Statement supersedes prior statements that endorsed shareholder primacy (the idea that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders), and “outlines a modern standard for corporate responsibility.” [7]

ESG in Practice

Under the current disclosure regime applicable to public companies listed in the United States, there is no affirmative duty to provide disclosures on ESG matters. As a practical matter, however, it can be anticipated that important stakeholders, such as investors, insurance companies, lenders, regulators and others, will increasingly look to companies’ disclosures to allow them to evaluate whether those companies have embraced ESG agendas. And, even in the absence of an affirmative duty to disclose, the substance of the information that companies do elect to report regarding their actions to identify and manage ESG risks and opportunities will be subject to the securities laws.

As we will discuss in future posts in this series, the ESG regulatory landscape regarding disclosure is rapidly evolving. While there is a general recognition of the value of, and the imperative for, consistent and decision-critical information to more easily evaluate how companies are overseeing and managing ESG-related risks and opportunities, most companies have yet to achieve that level of consistency. Moreover, ESG factors cover a broad range of activities that may or may not be relevant to particular businesses and their performance, or their potential positive effect on communities, or more broadly, societies. These metrics need to be refined. Accordingly, a prudent public company will find it desirable to establish its own criteria for determining the scope and content of its ESG disclosures, both to mitigate legal risk and identify future opportunities that ESG presents in terms of growth and differentiation.

In the absence of international consensus regarding ESG disclosures, a number of frameworks and indices have emerged to guide company disclosures and inform investors. Some of the leading international frameworks include the Global Reporting Initiative standards, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Ratings have also proliferated over the last decade. Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) and specialist firms such as Sustainalytics have recently been joined by traditional credit rating agencies such as Moody’s and S&P Global. A recent estimate suggests that the “global market for ESG ratings is currently worth about $200m and could grow to $500m within five years.” [8] The influence of these frameworks and rating agencies is such that they may shape regulation to come.

ESG is also influenced by public opinion. ESG issues are inherently reputational, especially given recent societal events. As more companies provide ESG disclosures and commitments, and given the speed of social media responses and the news cycle, observations about a company’s ESG actions or inactions are often published and sometimes go viral. Companies that are out of step with public opinion and market demands may face punishing reputational consequences.

Matching Aspiration and Action

We will describe in subsequent alerts the challenges faced by companies in developing a disclosure posture that satisfies the needs of a growing number of stakeholders, as well as the challenges faced by many of those stakeholders in obtaining information that is consistent and decision-critical. While ESG disclosures today are, from an SEC perspective, purely voluntary, over time that could change, and in the meantime there may be increasing pressure from a range of stakeholders to incorporate ESG statements. If a company’s ESG disclosures (for example, those in relation to compliance with legal, regulatory or voluntary standards or a particular commitment to achieve an ESG-positive outcome) later appear to be false or misleading, the company could face reputational backlash, shareholder lawsuits or possibly regulatory enforcement. Putting aside which disclosure standards they adopt, companies should ensure that they take a systematic approach to ESG reporting.

We highlight below considerations that should facilitate tying aspirations to actions and mitigating legal and reputational risks for commitments that cannot realistically be achieved:

  • Monitor internal ESG disclosures and commitments . Management should appoint a team tasked with monitoring the company’s ESG disclosures and commitments, recognizing that these statements can appear in a variety of formal communications ( g. , SEC filings, or in documents incorporated by reference in SEC filings, sustainability reports and corporate responsibility reports) as well as informal communications ( e.g. , communications to employees, social media posts, media interviews and website postings). The team should identify existing ESG commitments to establish a baseline. Thereafter, the team should have a procedure in place to monitor ESG disclosures of the company as well as of peer firms.
  • ESG statements made publicly should be vetted for factual accuracy and context in the same way as any other statement of fact.
  • Forward-looking commitments should be qualified as such, much as other forward-looking statements are (with aspirational qualifiers and appropriate disclaimers).
  • Management should consider extending the internal disclosure controls and procedures process to ESG statements, since some statements may well find their way into SEC filings.
  • Even though ESG disclosure standards are not mandatory, the SEC has noted that it will be comparing information that is voluntarily provided with disclosures made in SEC reports and registration statements, which is consistent with its general approach of monitoring analyst and investor calls as well as other statements made outside of SEC filings (for example, to police the use of non-GAAP financial measures and selective disclosure rules).
  • As with all material statements that are included in public disclosure, coordination among the relevant internal constituencies is critical and collaboration should be encouraged.
  • Educate employees on the risks associated with ESG disclosures . Employees responsible for preparing and updating ESG disclosures should be sensitized to the risks associated with public disclosures and to the importance of ensuring that ESG statements are consistent with the company’s description of its business, its MD&A and its risk factors in annual and quarterly reports, even if those latter disclosures have no apparent ESG themes.
  • Measure ESG performance . The ESG team should establish procedures to determine whether the company’s actions match its public ESG goals, the standards set by industry leaders and the frameworks established by third parties that the company has committed to—or is required to—follow. Doing so can help a company identify any vulnerabilities in order to mitigate potential legal and reputational risks.

1 See Greg Iacurci, “Money moving into environmental funds shatters previous record,” CNBC (January 14, 2020) , available here . (go back)

2 Lucca De Paoli, “European ESG Funds Pulled in Record $132 Billion in 2019,” Bloomberg (January 31, 2020), available here . (go back)

3 See Madison Darbyshire, “ESG funds continue to outperform wider market,” Financial Times (April 3, 2020), available here . (go back)

4 See Siobhan Riding, “Majority of ESG funds outperform wider market over 10 years,” Financial Times (June 13, 2020), available here . (go back)

5 Larry Fink, Blackrock, “‘Dear CEO Letter” (2018), available here . (go back)

6 Business Roundtable, “Business Roundtable Redefines the Purpose of a Corporation to Promote ‘An Economy That Serves All Americans’” (August 19, 2019), available here . (go back)

7 Id . (go back)

8 Billy Nauman, “Credit rating agencies join battle for ESG supremacy,” Financial Times   (September 17, 2019), available here . (go back)

One Comment

Common ESG metrics by Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC: Please show business case.

The Big Four accounting firms EY, PwC, KPMG, and Deloitte have unveiled on 22 September 2020 a paper proposing to harmonize ESG reporting standards. However, they have not presented any business case. Real data with real companies is what is needed.

Author: Sharafat A. Paracha, 25 September 2020.

Many years ago, before ESG was even coined, I was a young graduate with a Masters’ in Sustainability and I proposed Bordier & Cie, one of the oldest private banks in Geneva (and the only one to have maintained its unlimited liability status), to develop a Corporate Social Responsibility Index for one of its clients. That was 1999 and again in 2000. Claude Morgenegg, the person who hired me, had a Ph.D. in mathematics and in charge of the analysis team. He looked at the general framework I submitted to and then said: you have a model. Great! Now prove it works by collecting the data. That is when reality kicked me in the face and showed me that it was easier said than done.

So, I had to design a system for collecting the data I needed that was not publicly available. Remember, this was before sustainability reports were a common staple. Only a few Scandinavian companies were informing the public on CSR issues. I had to design a questionnaire to give to companies and follow-up with them to obtain answers. Answers from companies were not enough. No, no, no. I had to validate their answers by conducting investigations into their activities around the world, comparing their reports from what NGOs and other sources said. Then I had to convert it all into understandable, measurable and comparable metrics before arriving at a final selection. Then, there was the process of analyzing all the information I had, filtering it and assessing it before it could be ready to be transcribed into a system of notation. This CSR index needed also to be reproducible in the future. Only then one could use it for decision making in portfolio selection. I still have the work I did for them in a diskette. Remember those? I cannot read it as the technology is now obsolete. It was hard work which I did alone but with good guidance and serious oversight. It was necessary as what was at stake was tens of millions of Swiss francs and Bordier & Cie reputation to deliver to the client and to the rest of the private banks. Bordier & Cie became among the first private banks in Switzerland to offer CSR analysis to its clients.

The situation in ESG now in 2020 is completely different from 20 years ago. Sustainability reports have become a staple for corporations. There are a plethora of sustainability standards. There are now teams of ESG analysts who work in banks and for specialized funds producing streams of reports regularly. There is an overload of sustainability perspectives, systems and data. Complexity in ESG has become the norm.

The big four accounting firms EY, PwC, KPMG, and Deloitte are not facing the challenges I faced. They are not alone and are not operating with limited resources. They have access to every ESG source and data. They have substantial resources. They have knowledge, experience and clout. Together with the World Economic Forum they have unveiled on 22 September 2020 a paper proposing to harmonize ESG reporting standards. However, they fail to provide any data, any case study, any business model to back their proposal. Putting a table of metrics together is the easy part. The harder part is getting companies to agree, getting the data, independently validating the data (be in no doubt that if you don’t do this you expose yourself to serious risks – after all, there are also short sellers), getting banks to find them useful, getting clients to put their money.

This is a welcome first step, don’t get me wrong. ESG needs this to take-off and anything that starts the ball rolling is to be encouraged. But I believe a solid business case is necessary. When I developed the Bordier & Cie CSR system, I looked into more than 20 companies. It is reasonable to ask the Big Four accounting firms and the World Economic Forum to commit to providing 20 ESG evaluations of diverse types of corporations based on their harmonized metrics for IBC’s Winter Meeting in January 2021.

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  • Published: 13 July 2023

Integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria: their impacts on corporate sustainability performance

  • Anrafel de Souza Barbosa   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3178-4149 1 ,
  • Maria Cristina Basilio Crispim da Silva 1 ,
  • Luiz Bueno da Silva 1 ,
  • Sandra Naomi Morioka 1 &
  • Vinícius Fernandes de Souza 2  

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume  10 , Article number:  410 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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  • Business and management
  • Development studies
  • Environmental studies

In a corporate sustainability context, scholars have been studying internal and external relations provided by Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria, mostly from the organizational perspective. Therefore, the main objective of this paper is to map and analyze the literature on the impacts of integrating ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance from different points of view. The methodology used followed the Preferred Report Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, corroborated by a critical analysis. The results indicate that the integration of ESG criteria, observed from different perspectives, strengthens corporate sustainability performance. They also revealed narrowing gaps in the literature regarding methodological analysis. Most of the papers in the analyzed sample use company-level data and employ regression analysis in their analysis. The present study concludes that companies, regardless of nationality, follow the guidelines of ESG criteria integration and such procedure brings several benefits. It points to the lack of more confirmatory research approaches from a workers’ perspective, as the interest remains in the economic-environmental realm from the organizations’ point of view. The absence of such evidence points to a gap in the literature that suggests the need for new study initiatives.

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The discussion surrounding the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria and corporate sustainability has gained significant momentum in recent years, primarily driven by the evolving societal expectations regarding new models of production and consumption (Nishitani et al., 2021 ). Until the mid-1990s, according to Clarkson ( 1995 ), the focus of companies’ success was primarily centered on satisfying the needs of a single stakeholder, namely the shareholder. However, as time passed and the panorama shifted, particularly influenced by public policy changes, this perspective has undergone transformations. Gradually, other stakeholders have exerted pressure on companies, resulting in the integration of corporate sustainability into the strategic management of organizations, leading them to practice the ESG criteria (Wang et al., 2018 ).

Corporate sustainability performance refers to a company’s ability to operate in a manner that upholds ecological integrity, social well-being, and sound governance principles, while simultaneously generating value for its shareholders (Ahmad et al., 2023 ; Luque-Vílchez et al., 2023 ). It encompasses the effective management of environmental resources, fostering positive social relationships, and maintaining high standards of ethical conduct (Bellandi, 2023 ). The assessment of corporate sustainability performance requires the evaluation of both qualitative and quantitative indicators, examining various dimensions such as environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and corporate governance (Sandberg et al., 2022 ).

ESG criteria are used to assess corporate sustainability and ethical performance of companies and investments (Arora and Sharma, 2022 ). They are adopted by corporations to monitor and control the impacts of business activities on internal and external environments (Viranda et al., 2020 ). They mainly include: (i) collecting information; (ii) developing solutions; (iii) dealing with ESG issues in compliance with standards; (iv) conducting training; and (v) providing good communication (Boiral, 2002 ; Montabon et al., 2007 ; Merli and Preziosi, 2018 ). ESG criteria include prevention and preservation performance indicators (Gond et al., 2012 ). Besides, it requires coordination between the environmental department and other departments within companies, and balance between sustainable development goals and other corporate goals.

ESG criteria incorporates environmental, social, and governance factors into investment and business decision-making processes, and involves conditions relevant to traditional financial metrics when analyzing investments or valuing companies (Madden, 2022 ). These conditions can include metrics such as carbon emissions, water usage, employee diversity, labor practices, board diversity, executive compensation, etc. Thus, ESG criteria provide quantitative and qualitative information about a company’s sustainability practices and their potential impact on various stakeholders (Khalil et al., 2022 ; Uyar et al., 2023 ).

ESG integration involves incorporating environmental, social and governance indicators into investment and business decision-making processes. Instead of considering ESG criteria as separate from financial analysis, integration recognizes their materiality and incorporates them alongside traditional financial analysis. This integration can happen at various stages of the investment process, including portfolio construction, risk assessment, due diligence, and ongoing monitoring. Integration aims to identify and manage risks and opportunities related to ESG criteria, ultimately seeking to enhance long-term investment performance and sustainability (Gebhardt et al., 2022 ; Harasheh and Provasi, 2023 ).

ESG criteria provide the data and metrics to assess a company’s sustainability and ethical performance, while the integration involves incorporating these criteria into investment and business decision-making processes to better understand and manage the potential impacts on financial performance and corporate sustainability (Alda, 2021 ; Sahoo and Kumar, 2022 ).

In this sense, the integration of the ESG criteria has become an instrument responsible for defining, planning, operationalizing and executing the actions of corporations directed at environmental prevention and preservation, in addition to social responsibility and the quality performance of their activities (Barbosa et al., 2021 ).

Both from the standpoint of Sustainable Development Goals and the company response to shifting consumer preferences, interest in corporate sustainability has been increasing importance (Boulhaga et al., 2022 ). When looking for the relationship between the implementation of the ESG criteria and the corporate sustainability, the literature presents a heterogeneous scenario. Some researchers advocate a positive relationship (Harymawan et al., 2022 ; Kim et al., 2022 ), and others have confirmed a negative relationship (Rajesh and Rajendran, 2020 ).

As is the case with research by Lee and Isa ( 2022 ), they find a positive relationship between the implementation of ESG criteria and financial performance, suggesting that ESG criteria can increase company value. In addition, the authors also find evidence that the disclosure of ESG criteria can improve the relationship with corporate sustainability performance. Already in the study by Xu et al. ( 2022 ), the heterogeneity analysis demonstrates that the negative relationship between ESG disclosure and the risk of falling stock prices is more significant in state-owned companies, companies with higher agency costs and in companies in the development phase.

Although the results are ambiguous, there are several positive examples of the relationship between the ESG criteria and the corporate sustainability, which influences the reasons why research on sustainable business models has been carried out and why organizations are changing their business model in the direction of sustainability. Additionally, there is a lot of pressure to consider ESG factors when making decisions, particularly from capital investors and financial institutions (Jonsdottir et al., 2022 ; Park and Oh, 2022 ).

Organizations responding to the pressure to implement ESG criteria must manage environmental, social, and economic risks (Triple Bottom Line) and understand their short, medium, and long-term impacts (Bravi et al., 2020 ). To this end, many companies adopt management systems related to ESG criteria to integrate elements of the Triple Bottom Line, address stakeholder needs, and mitigate risks (Esquer-Peralta et al., 2008 ).

Thus, the ESG criteria cannot be seen only as a cost, since they can bring benefits to the company and be a competitive advantage over competitors (Barbosa et al., 2023 ; Zhang et al., 2021 ).

That said, the need for an innovative and coherent research field focused on ESG issues increases as environmental, social, and governance problems intensifies (Vanderley, 2020 ).

The literature has already discussed the research situation, qualitatively and quantitatively, regarding ESG criteria through the prism of corporations, usually in the context of trying to improve the field’s problem-solving ability in relation to companies’ concerns and practices. Baumgartner and Rauter’s ( 2017 ) research addresses the strategic perspectives of corporate sustainability management to develop sustainable organizations and promote the integration of ESG criteria into business activities and techniques.

This narrow interpretation is criticized by several scholars as being insufficiently analytical, as well as lacking a rigorous appreciation of the historical basis of human-environment interaction, highlighting worker perception (Bryant and Wilson, 1998 ; Herghiligiu et al., 2019 ).

Existing research on ESG criteria primarily focuses on the corporate perspective (Bourcet, 2020 ; Khanchel et al., 2023 ; Tsang et al., 2023 ). However, this literature review did not identify any references that support the worker’s perspective or address their involvement in organizational management, as highlighted by Ouni et al. ( 2020 ).

Therefore, this study aims to map and analyze the literature on the impacts of integrating ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance through different points of view. The research will employ both qualitative and quantitative analysis and consider the viewpoints of both employers and employees. This study aims to fill the existing gap in the literature, as no significant research has yet converged in this direction.

As is the case with the research of Huang ( 2021 ), who conducted a systematic literature review (SLR) to examine the link between ESG activities and organizational financial performance, focusing on the institutional aspect. Similarly, Taliento et al. ( 2019 ), who investigated the impact of ESG factors on economic performance, emphasizing the corporate sustainability advantage and business understanding.

This research holds significance due to the growing global efforts to establish ESG criteria and mitigate environmental, social, and economic risks (Triple Bottom Line) for sustainable development. It aims to comprehend how these risks can affect sustainable development in the short, medium, and long-term, considering both organizational and collaborative perspectives (workers) (Bravi et al., 2020 ).

In this sense, the main objective of this paper is to map and analyze the literature on the impacts of integrating ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance through different points of view. To achieve the proposed objective, the investigation addressed the following research questions:

What are the main features of the literature on ESG criteria?

What are the main methodological approaches used to study ESG criteria impact on corporate sustainability?

What are the main impacts of integrating ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance observed in the literature?

This paper is divided into six sections, including this introduction (section 1). Section “Theoretical backgrounds: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria” refers to the theoretical foundation on the ESG criteria and the construction of the research hypotheses. Subsequently, in section “Methodological procedures”, the methodological procedures of the research are discussed. In section “Results”, the results are developed. Then, in section “Discussion”, a discussion is carried out. And, finally, in section “Conclusion”, the research conclusions are highlighted.

Theoretical backgrounds: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria

The ESG criteria are about the set of organizational practices that considers in its context environmental, social, and governance factors, with a view to achieving long-term sustainability (Sultana et al., 2018 ). The proportionality of these three aspects in business management has the purpose of analyzing the operations in a holistic way, not limited merely to the economic and financial aspects (Cek and Eyupoglu, 2020 ). In this sense, the economic, transparency and ethical precepts are articulated, seeking to ensure the competitiveness and the perdurability of a company. (Oncioiu et al., 2020 ).

The environmental dimension involves assessing the corporation’s carbon footprint, natural resource usage (energy consumption and efficiency), recycling policies, waste management, and efforts to minimize environmental impacts (Rajesh, 2020 ). The social dimension encompasses the company’s relationships with employees, suppliers, partners, clients, and communities. It includes promoting diversity, non-discrimination, gender pay equality, equal opportunities, employee education, and community protection (Li and Wu, 2020 ). The governance dimension focuses on leadership, internal controls, executive compensation, audits, shareholder rights, anti-corruption policies, and transparency and accountability practices (Cek and Eyupoglu, 2020 ).

ESG criteria, also known as sustainable or socially responsible investments, assist investors in assessing companies’ initiatives and commitment to environmental, social, and governance issues. These criteria can be applied internally or externally in a company’s management (Du Rietz, 2018 ).

That said, compliance with ESG policies and practices is increasingly important to investors, employees, and customers, shaping company perception and performance evaluation beyond financial measures (Beretta et al., 2019 ).

While ESG indicators may vary by region, market, and industry, there are emerging best practices in the corporate world (Khalid et al., 2021 ). Thus, an example of ESG practices can be observed through the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), created by initiative of investors in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the UN Global Compact, with the aim of guiding the market in the pursuit of responsible development (Bauckloh et al., 2021 ; Naffa and Fain, 2020 ).

Therefore, one way to find out whether a particular organization is sustainable is to evaluate its performance by ESG indexes. However, these indexes have limitations as they may not capture the multidimensional aspects of ESG criteria comprehensively. Consequently, a broader focus on ESG criteria is needed, considering corporate sustainability performance.

Methodological procedures

There are distinct alternatives that can be appreciated in the deployment of a SLR, comprising a bibliometric approach, meta-analysis (Hunter et al., 1986 ) and content analysis approaches. (White and McCain, 1998 ). These three techniques were applied in the present study. The scope of this study provides qualitative and quantitative analysis of publications, in the synthesis and assimilation of the most explored academic research and authors with the support of citation analysis, as well as in the critical analysis of the sample of articles collected.

To address the research aims, which is to map and analyze the literature on the impacts on corporate sustainability performance provided by the integration of ESG criteria, this study relied on two procedures. The first procedure was a consistent and robust SLR materialized according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) methodology, which blends reference analysis, network analysis, and content analysis. The second method was a critical in-depth analysis of a specific sample of articles collected through the PRISMA structured procedure, which integrated and supported the initial technique, as already used in the sustainability literature (Bolis et al., 2014 ).

Primary procedure: PRISMA methodology

The PRISMA methodology is a directive that aims to provide scholars to improve the peculiarity of the externalization of research information, as well as to guide in the critical conjecture of a review of articles already published (Page et al., 2021 ).

Eligibility and ineligibility criteria

The documents eligible for the sample of this research were those published in the last 5 years (period from 2017 to March 2022); belonging to the study domain of environmental, social and governance areas (research area); considered exclusively as research articles (document type); disseminated only in scientific journals (journals ); written only in English language (language); and intrinsic to the topic of this research. The ineligible studies were those without a well-defined scientific structure, those without relevant data implicated in the theme of this research, those without access to the text ( in press ), and those that did not propose quantitative analysis (as this is a relevant point for future research).

Selection of the scientific databases

As a basis for this SLR and starting to answer the questions listed to achieve the objective of this study, the initial sample of articles followed systematic strategies that were adopted to consult the bibliometric databases until March 2022. Three scientific knowledge bases, Scopus , Web of Science ( WoS ), and Science Direct ( SD ) were used in to identify studies related to the ESG criteria.

The level of quality, the number of publications, the area of knowledge, and the set of metadata essential for the analysis of the references (including titles, abstracts, keywords, year of publication, number of citations, list of authors, countries, among others) were the criteria of choice for these 3 scientific databases. Scopus is one of the largest scientific knowledge bases of peer-reviewed literature (Morioka and de Carvalho, 2016 ). WoS can cover all indexed journals with an impact factor calculated in JCR ( Journal Citation Report ) (Carvalho et al., 2013 ). And SD combines reliable full-text publications in the scientific, technical and health fields (Direct, 2020 ). Another factor also considered was that all 3 databases provide metadata compatible with Mendeley reference analysis software (Carvalho et al., 2013 ).

Sampling procedure

The sampling procedure used to screen the articles was search by search terms, which were adapted for each defined bibliographic database. This was performed in March 2022. The keyword terms for the investigation were applied as follows: ("Environmental, Social, and Governance") AND (Impact* OR Effect* OR Performanc* OR Integrat*) AND (Sustainab*).

The initial searches are shown in Table 1 .

The first triage was applied as " Article title, Abstract, Keywords " in Scopus , as " Topic " in WoS and as " Title, abstract or author-specified keywords " in SD resulting in 5,760 collected documents ("Initial Sample"). Then, the primary parameter for refining the references was run as " Publication Years ", reducing the number of records by 1,152 documents. The secondary elimination criterion was applied as " Topic Area ", synthesizing the sample into 580 searches.

Continuing with the exclusion process, the third suppression factor was submitted as " Document Type ", summarizing the records into 486 studies. Subsequently, "Source Type" was used as the fourth parameter of reference reduction, reducing the records by 3 documents. Subsequently, the penultimate refinement requirement was performed as " Language ", subtracting 9 more references. Finally, the reading of the titles and abstracts of the articles was used as the sixth ground for the refinement of the sample as " Off Topic ", restricting to 3,172 documents that did not directly address the topic of this study. Thus, the quantity of rejected documents was 5,402 references, resulting in a sample of 358 research articles selected from the 3 scientific databases.

The references were then entered into Mendeley software to verify the intersections of studies between the databases. The triage identified 229 duplicate documents, which were excluded, reducing the sample to 129 articles. Subsequently, an isolated analysis of each of the 129 selected publications was performed to assess compatibility with the eligibility and ineligibility criteria focusing on the adequacy to the research premises and quality parameters related to the methodological peculiarity of the publications. This analysis resulted in an exclusion of 82 studies. The "Remaining Sample" became 47 research articles.

After rejecting studies that did not satisfy the "Initial Sample" pre-selection process, that were in duplicate, and that did not have the eligibility criteria, the snowball method was applied (Yin et al., 2020 ). The references were expanded to incorporate other studies that were cited in the 47 articles in the "Remaining Sample". The total number of records selected through the snowball technique was 2 studies ("Additional Sample"). The inclusion of the additional articles followed the same eligibility (except for the year of publication) and ineligibility criteria cited in section “Eligibility and ineligibility criteria”. Thus, the "Final Sample" for the conduct of this SLR was 49 research articles.

Reference analysis

Data tabulation and grouping strategies directed the stratification of information and a narrative synopsis. A spreadsheet ( Microsoft Excel 2021) and Mendeley software were used to manage the selected articles to transcribe predominant methodological minutiae of each research study comprising the assessment instrument used, the setting, participants, and substantive findings in terms of validity and credibility. The number of publications summarized by year and journal was the initial parameter of the reference analysis process. This resource made it possible to see how the records succeeded over the years and to discriminate the journals that repeatedly dealt with the theme of this research.

Network analysis

In this step, with the assistance of the VOSviewer software , the network analysis was performed, considering the compatibility of keywords and authors were analyzed through clustering diagrams. The first citation network developed was that of most relevant keywords. The second network developed was that of co-citations, which shows the degree of equivalence between the references presenting the articles mentioned together. The analysis of this network can help assimilate the intellectual character of a field and map the thematic similarities of scholars and the aspect of how groups of researchers relate to each other (Pilkington and Liston-Heyes, 1999 ).

Another analysis performed was on the methodological approaches applied among the studies. For this diagnosis, a deductive multivariate approach was applied based on the theoretical foundation and knowledge from the references. This analysis used insights extracted from the keywords and the analysis of important topics.

Content analysis

Each article included in the final sample was specifically cataloged using Mendeley software that comprised the metadata generated by scientific databases. For the content analysis, the articles were classified in order to consider the tools applied, the scope of application, the relevant industries, the research objectives, and the advantages and limitations of the process required to obtain the research results.

Secondary procedure: critical (interpretative) analysis

Critical analysis is a research skill outlined to contribute to the interpretation of complex issues to understand specific conjunctures (Gil-Guirado et al., 2021 ). Critical analysis involves multiple iterative cycles of interpreting and perceiving the content of parts of the phenomena of interest, and this assimilation of the parts entails a better understanding of the contexts as a whole (Valor et al., 2018 ).

To deepen the assimilation of the contexts, each researcher involved forms an understanding of their perspective in continuous cycles until a "cognitive fusion" is achieved resulting in a better conception of the phenomena. This approach does not aim to construct a theory, but rather to infer a better understanding of the contexts (Bolis et al., 2014 ). Thus, to complement the answers to the questions of this research, critical analysis was applied, which involved dialectical reasoning cycles to identify the understanding (systematization of applicable processes to determine the meaning and scope of methodologies) of researchers on the impacts of integrating ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance with the aim of finding the "cognitive fusion".

The initial cycle demanded a series of reviews, syntheses, and interpretations of the sample of articles collected in the structured procedure (PRISMA). In the next cycle, the collaborative critical process was adhered to, resulting in the refinement of the main methodological characteristics fragmented by each ESG criterion. Later, in the final interpretive cycle, the procedures of the first two cycles were analyzed, which provided additional perspectives and insights that complemented the previous interpretations.

Risk of bias

To assess the methodological quality of the included articles, the Prediction Study Trend Risk Assessment Tool (PROBAST) was used. (Wolff et al., 2019 ). This tool includes 20 questions divided into four domains (participants, predictors, outcome, and analysis). The risk of bias for each domain was rated as low risk, high risk, or very unclear to judgment (Wolff et al., 2019 ). Two researchers of the present study independently assessed the risk of bias of the included articles and performed an evaluation by qualitative analysis. Disagreements were resolved by consensus with a third reviewer.

The document collection strategy yielded 129 records, and after screening titles and abstracts and applying eligibility and ineligibility criteria, 49 articles were selected for this systematic literature review (SLR). Please refer to Fig. 1 for the SLR flow diagram.

figure 1

Source: Adapted from Page et al. ( 2021 ).

Consistent with Nishitani et al.’s ( 2021 ) assertion, Fig. 2 demonstrates the contemporary nature of discussions on ESG criteria and corporate sustainability, indicating their recent consolidation. In this specific context, the eligibility and ineligibility criteria of the articles were disregarded, and only a keyword search for "Environmental, Social, and Governance" was conducted across three databases. This was solely done to quantify the research related to the theme.

figure 2

Source: Scopus , WoS , and SD .

It is evident that there has been an increasing number of studies focused on ESG criteria over the years, with a peak of 649 research articles in 2021 (an average of 54 articles per month). This trend aligns with the growing interest of organizations in implementing ESG criteria (Qureshi et al., 2021 ).

Literature overview

Starting to answer the first research question ( What are the main characteristics of the literature on ESG criteria? ), an overview of the literature was conducted based on descriptive statistics of the sample of 49 selected articles. Table 2 presents the most influential studies. It lists the publications with 20 or more citations in the Scopus database.

The study that stood out the most was that of Xie et al. ( 2019 ), which investigates whether environmental, social, and governance activities improve corporate financial performance, with 115 citations over 3 years, an average of 38 citations/year; followed by the respective research of Garcia et al. ( 2017 ), which highlights the sensitive emerging market sectors in relation to improved ESG performance, published in the year 2017 and has 104 citations; and by Qureshi et al. ( 2020 ), which analyzes the moderating role of the impact of sustainability disclosure and board diversity on firm value, with 41 citations in 2 year, both averaging approximately 21 citations per year.

The articles of the core sample were designated from the network analysis of keywords, a quantitative technique practiced to identify the repercussion and expressiveness of an author or an article (Garfield and Morman, 1981 ). Nevertheless, this methodology should also take into account the relevance of the journal, besides computing the average annual citation (Carvalho et al., 2013 ), as shown in Table 2 .

That said, Fig. 3 shows, through the network analysis of the VOSviewer software , the relationship between the keywords and the articles in the designated sample, with recurrences of at least 2 times (this implies that terms that appear only once were not displayed). Other points to be observed are that the more consistent (full-bodied) the meshes the stronger the connections and the larger the points (nodes) of connections the more relevance they have.

figure 3

Source: Scopus, WoS , and SD .

Network analysis enables a better explanation of the consonance between the terms discovered, as well as simplifying the differentiation between the groupings literally associated with its operating principles.

There were 4 sets of keywords identified. Of the 4 sets of the keyword network analysis, 3 contain the term " ESG " and its variations. In the case of the terms " sustainability and performance ", all 4 clusters register their presence. This demonstrates that the search terms adopted were assertive, since it can be seen that they adhere to the proposed theme.

The research by Zhang et al. ( 2020 ), which discusses how ESG initiatives affect innovation performance for corporate sustainability; and the research of Xu et al. ( 2021 ), which examines the impacts of research and development (R&D) investment and ESG performance on green innovation performance; ratify the cited adherence.

Research topics: the main methodologies

The predominant impacts addressed in the sample of 49 scientific studies collected, classified by level of analysis and methodological interpellation, are evidenced in Table 3 , which already awakens the dissolution to the second research question ( What are the main methodological approaches used to study ESG criteria impact on corporate sustainability? ).

A content analysis of the full texts of the articles selected for this SLR was performed and it was found that approximately 87.75% of the studies (43 references) were conducted using information from companies through databases. Analyzes were quantitative, 46 studies, approximately 93.87%, applied regression analysis. Of these, 6 investigations, approximately 13.04%, implemented structural equation modeling. These results, corroborate the conjuncture that there is no evidence in the literature regarding research allusive to a mapping and quantitative analysis of the impacts of the integration of ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance, from an employee’s perspective.

By Fig. 4 , it can be distinguished that the organizations’ commitment does not focus exclusively on financial performance (12 studies), but also prioritizes corporate sustainability (12 studies).

figure 4

Financial performance and corporate sustainability were investigated in approximately 49% of the research (24 records), proving corporate concern for both sustainable development and economic performance. Landi et al. ( 2022 ), highlight this awareness in their investigation of the incorporation of sustainability into risk management and the impacts on financial performance. Taken together, these practices have the potential to minimize cost and risk, enhance the company’s reputation and legitimacy, intensify innovation, and solidify growth paths and trajectories, all of which are vitally important to stakeholder value creation. (Ting et al., 2020 ).

The corporate sustainability performance disclosed through the ESG criteria was investigated in an attempt to demonstrate the quality of an organization, because through environmental, social, and governance analysis, it is possible to determine how the company positions itself in relation to society and the planet, in addition to offering more transparency to the investor (Mohammad and Wasiuzzaman, 2021 ).

Figure 5 displays a broad view of the amount of research performed around the world according to the sample of articles selected for this SLR.

figure 5

It can be seen that Europe stands out in the evolution of ESG criteria with approximately 32.65% of research, with the highest visibility for Italy and Spain. The research by Conca et al. ( 2021 ), on the impacts of ESG reports in European agri-food companies; and (Baraibar-Diez and Odriozola, 2019 ), related to the effects of ESG parameters on the social responsibility committees of European corporations, highlight the aforementioned evolutionary prominence.

Figure 6 displays the most often consulted databases to collect information about the ESG criteria of the listed companies for their corporate sustainability performance.

figure 6

Source: Table 3 .

Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg databases stand out because they are providers of reliable answers that help organizations make confident decisions and better manage business (Alsayegh et al., 2020 ). This reinforces the fact that most studies use publicly available data to measure ESG, whether than collect the ESG criteria for the companies under investigation.

Critical analysis

Critical analysis is a method of study for understanding difficult and complex situations, especially when interpretations of the same articulation are possible and competing. It is a form of text analysis and has been handled to discover their original meanings and how they are interpreted (Shephard et al., 2019 ).

Thus, complementing the results of the primary approach (PRISMA method), a critical analysis was implemented based on the selection of 49 articles considered for discussion. The aim was to answer the third question of this research ( What are the main impacts of integrating ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance observed in the literature? ). Table 4 shows the main perceptions of the fragmented research according to each of the ESG criteria.

The cycles of the critical analysis involved a series of reviews, syntheses, and interpretations of ESG criteria affecting corporate sustainability performance identified in the 49 selected articles corroborating the structured process of this SLR. The results are shown in Tables 3 and 4 , which summarize the focus of the research, the methodologies applied, and the main gaps, contributions, and limitations of the studies.

In this SLR, the need for future empirical studies was also identified. There are still several research questions that need to be answered in depth. Some propositions for future investigations and possible research questions are outlined in Table 5 .

Analyzing the risk of bias in scientific research is of paramount importance as it can significantly impact the validity and reliability of research findings. It helps ensure that research outcomes accurately reflect reality and can be trusted by other researchers, policymakers, and the public (McGuinness and Higgins, 2021 ). Reproducibility is a fundamental principle of scientific research and transparently analyzing bias allows researchers to identify potential pitfalls and enhance the reproducibility of their work. Ethical considerations are also important as biased research can lead to harm, perpetuate discrimination, or favor specific individuals or groups unjustly (Marshall et al., 2015 ). Analyzing bias helps to improve the quality of evidence available for decision-making processes and ensures that the scientific literature remains reliable, allowing researchers to build upon a solid foundation of unbiased evidence. By carefully evaluating and addressing bias, researchers can enhance the quality and impact of their work (Reveiz et al., 2015 ; Wang et al., 2022 ).

In accordance with Table 6 (PROBAST diagnostics), most (93.9%) of the included research evidenced a minimal risk of bias and a low concern for applicability. The participants were the companies selected in each study; the predictors were the variables measured; the results were verified by the mathematical models; and the analysis, encompass the techniques used. The quality of the studies included in this study was rated from satisfactory to excellent.

Drawing upon rigorous research, this paper elucidates the prominent features that have appeared from the examination of ESG criteria. Table 2 and Fig. 3 show the repercussion, expressiveness and relevance of studies, authors, and journals.

The content analysis highlighted in Table 3 found that the literature on ESG criteria were carried out with information from companies through databases and applied regression analysis. These findings support the idea that there is no evidence in the study literature that maps or quantifies the effects of incorporating ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance from the viewpoint of employees.

Ouni et al. ( 2020 ), in their study on the mediating role of ESG strands in relation to executive board gender diversity and corporate financial performance, highlighted the need for future research that focuses not only on organizational understanding, but especially on the perception of women (workers) themselves, as board members, of their role and their contribution to financial performance, which strengthens the gap characterized in this SLR.

Researchers employ various methodologies to study ESG criteria, allowing for nuanced insights and robust analysis (see Table 3 ). Quantitative studies utilize large-scale data sets, statistical models, and financial indicators to explore the relationship between ESG criteria and financial performance, risk management, and firm valuation (Alkaraan et al., 2022 ; Mavlutova et al., 2022 ). Qualitative research methods employ interviews, case studies, and content analysis to investigate the organizational processes, stakeholder perceptions, and contextual factors that influence ESG practices and outcomes (Petavratzi et al., 2022 ). Some studies adopt an integrated approach by combining quantitative and qualitative methods to gain a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted nature of ESG criteria. These integrated approaches contribute to a holistic understanding of ESG-related phenomena (Aldowaish et al., 2022 ; Rehman et al., 2021 ).

Recognizing the strengths and limitations of methodologies, researchers have increasingly adopted mixed-methods approaches to investigate the impact of ESG criteria on corporate sustainability, integrating data collection and analysis processes to provide a comprehensive understanding of the research problem (Gebhardt et al., 2022 ). This approach allows researchers to triangulate findings, validate results, and gain a more nuanced perspective on the relationship between ESG criteria and corporate sustainability (Harasheh and Provasi, 2023 ). By leveraging the strengths of methodologies, research offers a more holistic and robust approach to studying complex phenomena.

The positive relationship of voluntary disclosure of corporate sustainability through the ESG criteria of organizations found in this study (see Table 4 ) provides evidence that the implementation of environmental and social strategies within an efficient system of corporate governance in the company strengthens the performance of corporate sustainability. The results also show that environmental performance and social performance are significantly positively related to sustainable economic performance, indicating that the corporation’s economic value and the creation of value for society are interdependent.

A similar fact was also found in the investigation of Zhang et al. ( 2020 ), on environmental, social and governance initiatives that affect innovative performance for corporate sustainability, which revealed that corporate governance initiatives play a moderating role in the relationship between environmental initiatives and performance innovation and the relationship between social initiatives and innovative performance.

Shaikh ( 2021 ), in his study on ESG practices and solid performance, explains the importance of voluntary reporting of non-financial indicators and a company’s responsibility towards stakeholders, reflected in the corporation’s accounting performance.

Integrating ESG criteria into business practices can have potential negative impacts, although specific effects may vary depending on context and implementation. As shown by the investigations of Wasiuzzaman et al. ( 2022 ), which verifies the extent to which culture can affect the relationship between ESG disclosure and company performance, evidencing the negative impact on the profitability of energy companies; and of Suttipun and Yordudom ( 2022 ), which analyzes the extent, level and trend of ESG disclosure in companies in Thailand, to test the different levels between high and low profile industries, which found a negative impact of governance disclosure on market reaction . Another example is the research of Yu et al. ( 2020 ), about Greenwashing in ESG disclosures, which identified organizations’ manipulations of ESG disclosures to increase market value.

While these concerns exist, effectively integrating ESG criteria can drive long-term value creation, risk management and stakeholder confidence. Implementing robust ESG practices requires careful consideration, transparency, and ongoing evaluation to mitigate potential negative impacts and ensure sustainable results.

The main objective of this article is to map and analyze the literature concerning the impacts of the integration of ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance. To this end, an SLR was performed using the PRISMA methodology, with the intention of selecting the most relevant articles.

Figure 2 revealed an increase in the number of publications on ESG criteria. In 2017, there were only 97 published papers. Already in 2021, this number expanded to 649 manuscripts, an evolution of approximately 570%.

The references were systematically appraised using a hybrid approach that combined literature review methodologies, including structured and objective techniques such as bibliometric analysis, network analysis, and content analysis, to identify key highlights and gaps in the literature related to the theme of this investigation; as well as subjective text interpretation technique (critical analysis), to robust the structured analysis.

This study assisted in diagnosing the methodologies addressed and narrowing the gaps in the literature in four ways. Initially, the article presents a bibliometric analysis with a perspective on ESG criteria and sustainability performance based on the sampling of 49 research studies outlining the main papers and journals (according to Table 2 ). Subsequently, with the aid of network analysis the main keywords were highlighted (see Fig. 3 ).

Next, based on an in-depth content analysis, the article presents the main study highlights, the focus of the research, and the stratification of methods (Table 3 ). Finally, the critical analysis is juxtaposed to consolidate the initial structured analysis (Table 4 ).

Several authors have discussed the topic addressed by this SLR, such as Lokuwaduge and Heenetigala ( 2017 ), who made an interpellation of the integration of ESG precepts for an organizational sustainable development. Another reference is the paper by Bouslah et al. ( 2013 ), which analyzed the ESG dimensions and corporate risks.

But there is no evidence, to the knowledge of the authors of this paper, in the sample selected for this SLR, of research on a mapping and quantitative analysis of the impacts of integrating of ESG criteria on corporate sustainability performance as a result of workers’ perceptions. The study points out the lack of more confirmatory research approaches applying a multidimensional perspective of workers, as the interest remains in the economic-environmental perspective from the organizations’ point of view. It was also found that none of the studies listed made use of other types of diagnostic instruments diverging from the databases.

That said, the absence of such evidence highlights a gap in the literature that suggests the need for new study initiatives to fill it.

In addition to the opportunities for future studies proposed in Table 5 , future researches could explore the developing standardized metrics, common metrics that are relevant across different sectors and geographies; the relationship between ESG and financial performance, mechanisms behind this relationship, such as the impacts of ESG criteria on customer loyalty or employee satisfaction; the impacts of ESG criteria on non-financial stakeholders, such as employees, customers, and communities; the role of technology in ESG, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain in ESG reporting and decision-making; and on emerging ESG issues, such as the impact of climate change on supply chains or the ethical considerations of artificial intelligence.

Therefore, it would be important to establish standards and parameters that allow companies to understand and evaluate ESG criteria. In this sense, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) could develop a global standardization on ESG that defines parameters, guidelines, and criteria with quality indicators, in line with the ISO 9001 standard already recognized worldwide.

This exploratory work highlights as a contribution the aspect of guiding corporations in understanding how the integration of ESG criteria can positively impact corporate sustainability performance, providing investment optimization and better business planning.

Furthermore, some important conclusions related to the ESG criteria can be obtained. It was observed that companies, regardless of nationality, follow the guidelines of ESG criteria integration and such procedure brings many benefits, such as: improving the organization’s image with stakeholders; increasing the corporation’s competitiveness; promoting corporate sustainability; improving the conjuncture in relation to gender diversity; improving intellectual opportunities; among others.

This research has limitations related to the use of keyword search engines and the filters of the selected databases. The keyword groups are asked to be elaborated in diverse ways, so the combinatorial analysis of the groupings may bring different answers. The filters of the scientific databases have disparate search characteristics, which may cause divergences in the answers. Another limitation was the critical analysis that may have generated an interpretation bias. Nevertheless, the PROBAST method and the systematic multi-method approach applied (bibliometric, network analysis, and content analysis) helped to mitigate this limitation.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this research as no data were generated or analyzed.

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environmental corporate governance essay

Determinants of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) disclosure: a study of Indian companies

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environmental corporate governance essay

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between financial performances and the extent of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) disclosure of Indian companies. The content analysis was used to analyse the ESG performance of the sample companies from their annual and sustainability reports. For this purpose, ESG disclosure index is constructed with the help of GRI framework, Clause 49 of listing agreement and relevant literature. Ordinary Least Square (OLS) method was used to examine the relationship between the ESG disclosure index and the independent variables, namely the financial performance, market performance, FIIs stake and leverage after statistically controlling the effects of a firm’s size and the industry type of the companies; results based on the formulated model indicated that financial and market performance have a positive and significant association with the level of ESG disclosure, whereas FIIs stake and leverage have a negative and significant association with the level of ESG disclosure. The findings are limited to the context of the study, and it was limited to Indian companies listed at Bombay Stock Exchange for the period 2013–2016. The sources of data in this study were companies’ annual and sustainability reports. The study may be constructive for organizations and statutory bodies to take into consideration in identification of corporate attributes that will enhance ESG disclosure, since it had been shown in literature that the voluntary corporate social responsibility and corporate governance reporting in India is generally low. In recent times, there has been an increase in ESG reporting, to address the increasing concerns of the stakeholders. Thus, this study will emphasize the level of activities through ESG reporting in Indian companies and help the government to ascertain the level of ESG activities through corporate social responsibility reporting among Indian companies. The study reveals the extent of the disclosure of ESG to companies annual and sustainability reports and constructed the CSR index based on GRI framework and Clause 49 of listing agreement.

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Sharma, P., Panday, P. & Dangwal, R.C. Determinants of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) disclosure: a study of Indian companies. Int J Discl Gov 17 , 208–217 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41310-020-00085-y

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Free Corporate Governance Essay Examples & Topics

Corporate governance is a set of policies and rules used to direct and control a company’s operations. It is essential for managing a firm and balancing the interests of the stakeholders, shareholders, executive directors, suppliers, and customers. Accountability, transparency, fairness, and responsibility form the corporate governance framework.

Assigned a corporate governance essay? Our IvyPanda team is ready to help you with this task. But before all else, let’s learn its essential aspects.

There are a few key principles of corporate governance. Firstly , shareholders have control over the boards. Their voting rights directly depend on their economic interests.

Secondly , boards should keep in touch with the shareholders and meet their expectations. Thus, they should have strong leadership skills. In essence, they are responsible for enhancing the effectiveness and adopting new practices.

Finally , boards should develop a working management system. Its goal is to positively affect a company’s performance in the long run.

In this article, we have collected corporate governance essay questions and examples. They will assist you in preparing and writing your paper. Additionally, you will find free samples written by fellow students.

Great Corporate Governance Essay Questions

Checking corporate governance assignment topics can be useful for many reasons:

  • You can look through multiple ideas at the same time. Thus, you may understand what it would be interesting to write about.
  • Different ideas can show you how to formulate your own topic.
  • Lastly, you can find an idea for your work.

We have put together a small list for you to check. Find more ideas by trying our title generator . It will create new topics for your paper automatically.

Here are some corporate governance topics:

  • What is corporate governance? How do you implement it correctly?
  • The role of the audit committee in developing an effective financial management strategy.
  • What are some examples of corporate governance approaches in American firms?
  • Should employees who have children with disabilities have extra social care benefits?
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  • The role of business ethics in striving for equality and eliminating discrimination at the workplace.
  • Top 5 the most effective governance models.
  • Governance research in developing an efficient long-term managing strategy.
  • What are the similarities and differences in corporate governance principles in public and private firms?
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  • How can corporate governance help prevent the firm’s economic crisis?
  • Structure hierarchy vs. flat management model. What is more appropriate for governing large corporations?
  • Agency relationship between two parties. Possible problems that may occur in this kind of cooperation.
  • The effect of corporate social responsibility on a firm’s image and reputation.
  • How to recover from failures in project management and take the maximum benefit from them.
  • The importance of having a clear mission statement for the company’s reputation in the market.
  • How can a company reach sustainability in terms of production and distribution of the products?

5 Corporate Governance Examples

In your essay, you can consider examples of corporate governance for different reasons. They can be used as a subject of discussion, evaluation, or as supporting evidence. That’s why we have provided some good examples in this section:

  • Integrated business management system (IBMS)

In most organizations, each department has its own key performance indicators. Yet, it is essential to see a holistic picture of the company’s performance. One of the solutions is to imply IBMS and combine all management systems. IMBS ensures transparency, cross-departmental collaboration, traceability, and visibility.

  • Regular internal audits

The role of routine internal audits cannot be underestimated. They allow identifying current problems and vulnerabilities in the company. Moreover, audits help evaluate the corporate environment and make some adjustments if needed.

  • Training management system

Investments in employees’ training are always a great idea! The knowledge and skills that the workers acquire during the courses will bring valuable input to a company. Thus, simple training can boost the company’s performance to a great extent.

  • Risk management

Identifying, accessing, and managing the risk are the key elements of successful corporate governance. It is essential for the company’s managers to acknowledge the possible threats. Plus, they should have a clear plan of how to overcome these obstacles.

Successful management relies on valid data. Therefore, it is essential to report true key performance indicators. It will help evaluate the firm’s achievements and adjust the strategy if needed.

Thank you for reading! Below, see corporate governance, diversity, and inclusion essay examples. They will help you better understand the subject and how to write about it. You can shorten each paper with our summarizer to read them faster.

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REVIEW article

The linkage between global financial crises, corporate social responsibility and climate change: unearthing research opportunities through bibliometric reviews provisionally accepted.

  • 1 Kotebe University of Education, Ethiopia
  • 2 University of Johannesburg, South Africa

The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

Financial matters, corporate social responsibility (CSR), climate change, and other sustainable solutions all work in tandem. In order to provide a thorough understanding of the integration between various components during crises, it is necessary to provide knowledge of the interaction between financial, societal, and environmental aspects. In order to accomplish this, hundreds of papers were examined and presented using bibliometric analysis. The study demonstrated that, when examining financial crises in relation to CSR and climate change, sustainability issues were clearly examined. Sustainability, environmental economics, governance approaches, and sustainable development are some of the main issues in this comprehensive subject. Besides, the emerging topics that need more research include organizational resilience, global financial crises, and sustainable performance, while there are no specific themes developed in the subject matter that integrate financial crises, CSR, and climate change. Thus, future researchers need to provide new insights on the integration of these concepts.

Keywords: Financial crises, CSR, Climate Change, sustainability, scientific mapping, thematic

Received: 19 Feb 2024; Accepted: 08 May 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 Chebo, Dhliwayo and Batu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Abdella K. Chebo, Kotebe University of Education, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Set sustainability forum 2024 calls on all thai capital market stakeholders to reflect on governance practices for strengthening trust in the global market.

Date 15/02/2024

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and SET ESG Academy, together with capital market executives locally and abroad today organized “SET Sustainability Forum 1/2024: Grounding Greater Governance for Good”. The forum is aimed at emphasizing the significance of robust corporate governance as the cornerstone for sustainable business development and investment.  The discussions centered around the crucial aspects of reliable quality environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) data, as well as its application in driving impactful business and investment decisions both locally and globally.

A SET governor and Chairperson of the Sustainability Committee Adjunct Professor Dr. Kittipong Kittayarak, in the opening remarks and keynote speech on the topic of “Grounding Greater Governance for Good”, said that sustainable businesses are not born out of good intentions alone, but also with a purpose-driven by robust corporate governance.  In addition to risk management, corporate governance provides key drivers for business success including competitive advantage and innovation, delivering tangible value at every step.

Another highlight of the event was an exclusive talk titled "Re-examining the Importance of Governance in Corporate Sustainability and ESG Investing" by Helena Fung, Head of Sustainable Finance and Investment, Asia Pacific, at the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). “Investors globally are prioritizing corporate sustainability performance as an integral part of their investment decision making process. We are pleased to support SET in this important event underlining the importance of strong corporate governance frameworks, transparency and disclosure on material sustainability issues aligned to global standards, Fung emphasized.  

The event comprised two captivating sharing and discussion sessions, engaging key stakeholders. The first session, "Rebuilding Trust: The Rise of Governance in Investment Decisions and Corporate Sustainability", witnessed a dynamic exchange of knowledge and experiences among data users in the field of sustainable investing. The second session, "Communicating Greater Governance through Responsible Data", provided valuable insights from data providers, new-generation investors, and regulatory bodies, including the guidelines that cater to the expectations of stakeholders in all dimensions. These fruitful sessions fostered synergies and encouraged the sharing of crucial insights among capital market executives.

The success of the “SET Sustainability Forum 1/2024: Grounding Greater Governance for Good” event was held on February 15 th , 2024, sets the stage for an upcoming event later this year. This forthcoming gathering will focus on presenting ESG Best Practices, equipping businesses with the necessary understanding and know-how to drive sustainable practices within organizations and boost the Thai capital market.

Interested persons can watch the seminar recordings via online channels, Facebook & YouTube: SET Thailand.

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    Entitled: Three Essays on Environmental, Social, and Governance Transparency and submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor Of Philosophy (Accountancy) complies with the regulations of the University and meets the accepted standards with respect to originality and quality.

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    In this essay, we highlight key changes in the corporate governance context over the past two decades and provide scholars a roadmap for future research. ... Aguilera RV, Aragón-Correa JA, Marano V, et al. (2021) The corporate governance of environmental sustainability: A review and proposal for more integrated research. Journal of Management ...

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    According to Davis (), Corporate Social Responsibility should be interpreted in a managerial context and it can be justified only in the light of a long-run economic gain to the firm.However, there were contrary opinions about the issue. Corporate Governance considers two main theories which have guided companies' business strategy during the time, as well as the Shareholder Theory (Friedman ...

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    Amidst heightened scrutiny of corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices, this study employs threshold techniques combined with artificial neural networks to examine the impact of ESG disclosure on companies, emphasizing its pivotal role in promoting sustainability. Analyzing data from Taiwan's 20 industries from 2012 to 2022, it finds that while ESG engagement ...

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    The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between financial performances and the extent of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) disclosure of Indian companies. The content analysis was used to analyse the ESG performance of the sample companies from their annual and sustainability reports. For this purpose, ESG disclosure index is constructed with the help of GRI ...

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    This study examines whether and how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance is associated with corporate financialization. ... PAPERS. 34,284. This Journal is curated by: René M. Stulz at Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Finance. ... Corporate Governance: Economic Consequences, History, Development, & Methodology ...

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    Environmental, social, and governance (ESG), is a set of aspects, including environmental issues, social issues and corporate governance that can be considered in investing.Investing with ESG considerations is sometimes referred to as responsible investing or, in more proactive cases, impact investing.. The term ESG first came to prominence in a 2004 report titled "Who Cares Wins", which was a ...

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    An environmental, social and governance (ESG) evaluation system can focus on the value of enterprises more comprehensively and better scrutinize the development premise of enterprise. As a novel investment concept, both domestic and foreign investors widely acknowledge the significance of ESG. With the implementation of "carbon peak", "carbon neutral" and other national strategies, an ...

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    Corporate governance is a set of policies and rules used to direct and control a company's operations. It is essential for managing a firm and balancing the interests of the stakeholders, shareholders, executive directors, suppliers, and customers. Accountability, transparency, fairness, and responsibility form the corporate governance framework.

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    The corporate sector strives to improve its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance to transition from short-term to sustainable long-term profit maximisation. This study thus explores the impact of ESG performance on the financial sustainability (FS) of a sample of the top 100 global high-tech firms.

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    Traditional Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics have primarily focused on promoting sustainable finance, positive screening, and sustainability reporting. However, recent research highlights the urgency for greater accountability and action to counter species extinction. This article explores the potential of ESG frameworks in guiding corporate and managerial decision-making to ...

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    Financial matters, corporate social responsibility (CSR), climate change, and other sustainable solutions all work in tandem. In order to provide a thorough understanding of the integration between various components during crises, it is necessary to provide knowledge of the interaction between financial, societal, and environmental aspects. In order to accomplish this, hundreds of papers were ...

  26. Does Your EV Hurt, or Help, the Economy?

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  27. Bloomberg launches ESG compliance tool (2024)

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  28. SET Sustainability Forum 2024 Calls On All Thai Capital Market

    The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and SET ESG Academy, together with capital market executives locally and abroad today organized "SET Sustainability Forum 1/2024: Grounding Greater Governance for Good". The forum is aimed at emphasizing the significance of robust corporate governance as the cornerstone for sustainable business development and investment. The discussions centered ...

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    Ballotpedia: The Encyclopedia of American Politics. See also: Opposition to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing See also: Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) May 7, 2024. The World Economic Forum (WEF) held a meeting last week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where more than 1,000 attendees, including BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, discussed goals and policies ...

  30. ESG controversies and corporate performance: The moderating effect of

    1 INTRODUCTION. In today's corporate landscape, the prominence of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors marks a significant transformation in how businesses navigate their multifaceted roles within broader societal and environmental contexts (Boukattaya et al., 2022; Boulhaga et al., 2023; Busch & Schnippering, 2022; Durand et al., 2019; Raimo et al., 2020).