ESG Investing: Prospects for procurement to ponder

The growth of ESG Investing is fast-becoming a sign of the future of business and procurement practices

Environmental, Social, (and now, Corporate) Governance (ESG) investing, is an investment strategy that considers the environmental, social and governance practices of companies in which an investor is - simply stated - considering putting money into.

This type of investing has gained popularity in recent years as more and more investors become aware of the impact their investments can have on the world around them.

One of the main goals of ESG investing is to generate both financial return and positive societal impact.

By considering the environmental and social impact of a company, as well as its governance practices, investors can make informed decisions about where to allocate their capital.

For example, an investor may choose to invest in companies that have a strong track record of reducing their carbon footprint or of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The rising trend in ESG Investing is something for procurement to both pay attention to, and if competent, adapt to.

Incorporating ESG principles into investment strategy

There are several ways that investors can incorporate ESG principles into their investment strategy. One option is to invest in funds that focus specifically on ESG criteria. These funds tend to invest in companies that score highly on measures such as environmental performance, social responsibility, and good governance.

Another option is to use ESG ratings to screen individual stocks or bonds. There are a number of organisations that provide ratings on the ESG practices of companies, allowing investors to easily compare the relative sustainability of different investment options.

While some investors may be drawn to ESG investing for ethical reasons, there is also a growing body of evidence suggesting that ESG investing can lead to financial outperformance.

Companies that prioritise ESG practices may be better equipped to manage risks such as regulatory changes or reputational damage, which can lead to long-term financial stability.

It's important to note that ESG investing is not without its critics. Some argue that the standards used to evaluate a company's ESG practices are subjective and that there is therefore, a lack of consensus on what constitutes 'good' ESG performance.

Others argue that the financial performance of ESG-focused companies may not always be as strong as those that do not prioritise these issues. 

In a sign of a shift in corporate culture in sustainability and ESGs, recent research developed by EcoVadis and the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that in direct contradistinction to classical business practices, reducing costs (and by implication, traditional profit orientation) has "lost significance", with only 36% of executive teams believing it to be of critical importance, compared with 56% in 2019.

Despite these competing positions, the popularity of ESG investing shows no signs of slowing down. As more investors become aware of the potential impact of their investments, the demand for sustainable investment options is likely to continue to grow.

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