The ESG Tug-of-war-Which side are you on?

Neha Kandwal
3 min readJul 18, 2022
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I am an ESG Practitioner. You talk sustainability to me and I’ll be sold. Recently, there has been a growing dissent towards the ESG sector and for long I have wanted to clear the air but to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, I decided to do some reading to understand the discourses of both the camps: the ESG-phobics and the ESG-philics. I wanted to find out why some leaders are/ have turned into ESG cynics and are determined on trashing the SRI sector and if their claims/beliefs have any bearings.

Let us find out.

Even with almost $4trillion investment inflow in ESG in the last two years alone, there are ESG naysayers who believe that “ESG is a scam.” Despite such claims, the growth in the ESG market has been unprecedented. But the ones making these claims are stalwarts and persons of repute and respect, so why can’t the CEO of an EV company get behind the idea of ESG?

Here’s why.

The primary reason why some people hate ESG is because they cannot tolerate anything to stand between their business and profits. And they want these profits, quick. They see ESG as purely cost and not as investment. Therefore, their short-sightedness doesn’t let them wrap their head around the fact that aligning with ESG pays-off in the long-term. So to add fuel to the fire, we have studies published highlighting the ‘under-performance’ of ESG funds but what they don’t inform about is that ESG is a long-term game.

Another reason for disrepute in the ESG sector is the false marketing and rampant greenwashing that has been doing rounds regarding ESG products. When the bigwigs like Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs come under fire for ‘greenwashing’, suspicions are bound to emerge.

Furthermore, as ESG is still an emerging sphere, there is a lack of ‘quality’ trainings and course materials available widely and hence, the quality of ESG assessments and ratings by analysts/consultants are variable (even when following the same guidelines and standards). This makes ESG ratings look less credible.

One major reason which adds to its disadvantages, is the ESG jargon soup. There are so many terms in the Socially Responsible Investment sector now, which has really added to the confusion. EY’s Global Vice Chair of sustainability…

Neha Kandwal

LordCommander @iamgreenified. Environmentalist.Compulsive traveler. Eco-blogger. Aspiring Captain Planet. Sharing stories, anecdotes, and thoughts.