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Jun 20, 2019

ESG sits with corporate governance, not IR, in North America, study finds

IR Magazine and Corporate Secretary research explores how companies are approaching ESG communications and engagement

As investors integrate ESG into decision-making and proxy-voting processes, the ESG efforts at North American public companies appear to be led by corporate governance teams, not IR, according to new research from IR Magazine and online sister publication Corporate Secretary.

Staff at both publications have noted that there is no uniform approach to whether IR or corporate governance professionals lead ESG communication, engagement and reporting efforts, even at companies that have recently picked up awards for their ESG efforts.

The ESG & Investor Engagement report, published jointly by IR Magazine and Corporate Secretary, looks to explore this in greater detail. When it comes to external ESG activities, corporate governance professionals in North America are far more likely to have participated in the last year, the study finds.

Almost one quarter (23 percent) of corporate governance professionals surveyed say they have had group meetings with ESG analysts in the last 12 months, compared with 17 percent of IR professionals in North America.

Only 8 percent of corporate governance professionals have participated in an ESG-focused roadshow during the same time period, but the number is even lower for IR teams in the US and Canada, with only 2 percent saying they’ve been part of an ESG roadshow.

Corporate governance professionals are also more likely to have attended an ESG-focused conference in the last 12 months than their colleagues in IR.

Bucking the trend, IR professionals participated in more ESG-focused conference calls last year, with 30 percent of North American respondents saying they’ve dialed in to a call, compared with 24 percent of corporate governance professionals.

In the cover story for the Corporate Secretary special report on ESG, Steve Lippman, ESG engagement director at Microsoft, explains how his role is designed to create cross-functional efficiencies within Microsoft on ESG reporting, engagement and communications.

Click here to find out more about the ESG & Investor Engagement report. Additional highlights include:

  • How do companies report on ESG matters?
  • What ESG-related interactions do they have with investors?
  • What are the benefits of ESG disclosure?
  • How are ESG ratings considered?
  • How does the investment community value ESG?