By Emma Nitzsche
The Hill hosted an event on Wednesday to discuss how ESG is transforming business and creating a better world for consumers, companies, and shareholders.
The national summit on ESG was broken down into three one-hour segments that included politicians, CEOs, and experts in various fields relating to ESG. The first segment defined ESG, the second asked how to measure ESG success within a company, and the third looked at the climate aspect of ESG in the realm of the zero-emission trucking industry.
In the first segment, Steve Clemons, the moderator of the event and Editor-at-Large at The Hill, reminded the audience that ESG stood for environmental, social, and governance policy. ESG is used by investors to evaluate corporate behavior and to determine the future financial performance of companies.
To get a perspective on the environmental aspect of ESG, Clemons spoke with Ramón Cruz, the president of Sierra Club. Cruz noted that companies are becoming more aware of climate concerns, and their consumers are beginning to have higher environmental standards for the products they purchase.
Clemons also interviewed Michelle Kim on ESG’s social aspects. Kim recently published a book on how companies with good intentions for employee diversity ultimately miss the mark. Kim noted that diversity and inclusion are more than just having a diverse employee base. Instead, it involves companies talking to their employees and getting their perspectives on social issues.
Jean Case, the CEO of the Case Impact Network, built upon Kim’s interview and noted that often companies are only rated on one aspect of ESG. A good ESG score might mean that a business is excelling in only one area of environmental, social, and governance policy. For instance, a Silicon Valley company that fails to meet diversity standards but creates an environmentally friendly product would get an excellent ESG score.
As for governance, Clemons talked to Rep. French Hill (R-AR), a member of the Financial Services Committee, who highlighted the difficulties of financial disclosure for companies. He claimed there could not be a one-size-fits-all approach for data on how a company is succeeding in environmental, social, and governance policy.
The event then focused on how society can measure success and a successful ESG strategy picture. Some of the guests, like Sanda Ojiambo, the Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, gave a concrete way to measure ESG success. She outlined ten principles that businesses can emphasize to add value to customers, citizens, and stakeholders. The ten principles included topics on human rights, child labor, non-discrimination, and environmental sustainability.
The final session included a discussion sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund on zero-emission trucks and the charging infrastructure. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), the Chair of the Homeland Cybersecurity Infrastructure Protection & Innovation Subcommittee, discussed her bill H.R.1221. The bill is dedicated to building 200,000 charging stations in underserved communities. Rep. Clarke noted that the trucking industry is one of the most significant greenhouse gas emitters, and underserved communities are usually the ones most impacted by the pollution.
The event ended with a panel featuring three leaders in the electric vehicle industry. Mari McClure, the President and CEO of Green Mountain Power, discussed how consumers in her state of Vermont are demanding electric vehicles. However, because the industry is so new, her company needs government support to get more people utilizing EVs quickly.
Walmart and the Environmental Defense Fund sponsored the event. Interested viewers can find a complete recording of the event here.