Delegates at the Corporate Secretary and IR Magazine ESG Integration Forum – Europe insist ESG is here to stay and anticipate even more ESG proposals emerging at the 2022 AGM season.
Attendees at the hybrid in-person and virtual forum in London earlier this month were polled for their views on the increasingly integral investing approach taken by global companies.
Corporate Secretary and IR Magazine asked whether increasing pressures on bottom lines from inflation, the cost of living and geopolitical disruption in a post-pandemic recovering world would slow the ESG movement. A resounding 89 percent said no and just 11 percent said yes. Attendees believed ESG would continue to grow in importance and be a bigger issue for all stakeholders.
When Corporate Secretary and IR Magazine asked whether delegates expected an increase in ESG-related proposals against companies at the 2022 AGM season compared with 2021, a similarly emphatic 88 percent said yes and just 12 percent said no. Companies in the rapidly approaching proxy season really anticipate more action from investors on ESG issues. Some changes in the US market in particular are going to make it easier for shareholder proposals related to ESG to make it onto the ballot.
ESG going mainstream
Corporate Secretary and IR Magazine asked delegates whether they believed public companies should think more holistically about their stakeholder needs instead of their shareholder needs. A very conclusive 100 percent said yes. The focus on stakeholder capitalism – the need to go beyond just focusing on shareholder value – is something everybody continues to think is very important and it is still evolving as an issue.
Corporate Secretary and IR Magazine also asked whether the creation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) – formed at COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021 – meant ESG is going mainstream. Again, a conclusive result, with 100 percent of delegates saying yes. The poll result confirms the general sense of direction for ESG and suggests the creation of the ISSB is another step in developing more standardized ESG reporting on a global basis.
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