As I have noted in prior posts, due to a political “backlash” against ESG, many companies have found it expedient to avoid talking about ESG altogether – a developing that has been referred to as “greenhushing.” Indeed, some academics have even suggested that it may be time to say “RIP” to ESG. But if the expression “ESG” is now verboten, how are we going to talk collectively about the various topics encompassed by the term “ESG”?

According to a January 10, 2024, front-page Wall Street Journal article entitled “The Latest Dirty Word in Corporate America: ESG” (here), as “ESG” has become the three letters that corporate officials dare not utter, they have found other ways to talk about “responsible business.” Meanwhile, corporate environmental and social responsibility efforts continue despite the apparent banishment of “ESG” as an expression. Moreover, as also discussed below, due to regulatory changes, the likelihood is that discussion of the concepts underlying what was referred to in past as “ESG” are only going to increase, regardless whether or not the term “ESG” is used.Continue Reading Goodbye ESG, Hello “Responsible Business”

It is no secret that I am skeptical of the usefulness of ESG as an analytic tool and even as an intellectual concept. As I have contended, there are fundamental disagreements about what ESG actually means, and the idea that it can be objectively measured and quantified is illusory, at best. Now, in an October 21, 2023, Financial Times op-ed column (here), NYU Business School Professor Aswath Damodaran argues that ESG is “beyond redemption” and it may be time to administer last rites.Continue Reading Time to Say RIP to ESG?

Readers of this blog know that one of the more significant recent developments in the ESG arena has been the rise of the ESG backlash – that is, moves by state legislators and others to try to push back against a supposed ESG agenda. These developments have put company executives squarely in the crossfire, as they struggle, on the one hand, to address continued efforts by activist stakeholders to push companies toward expanded ESG commitments, and conflicting efforts by conservative politicians to punish companies for supposedly pursuing a “woke” agenda. How are companies to respond to these competing forces? Evidence suggests that increasingly companies are responding by “greenhushing” – that is, by keeping quiet about their ESG initiatives.Continue Reading Next Up on the ESG Front: Greenhushing?