Valuing ESG: Doing Good or Sounding Good?
For Professor Aswath Damodaran from NYU, the ESG bandwagon may be gathering speed and getting companies and investors on board, but companies will not be any more socially responsible than they were before ESG was invented.
In the last decade, companies have come under pressure to be socially conscious and environmentally responsible, with the pressure coming sometimes from politicians, regulators and interest groups, and sometimes from investors. The argument that corporate managers should replace their singular focus on shareholders with a broader vision, where they also serve other stakeholders, including customers, employees and society, has found a receptive audience with corporate CEOs and institutional investors.
The pitch that companies should focus on “doing good” is sweetened with the promise that it will also be good for their bottom line and for shareholders. In this paper, we build a framework for value that will allow us to examine how being socially responsible can manifest in the tangible ingredients of value and look at the evidence for whether being socially responsible is creating value for companies and for investors.