ESG Is Here And There’s No Turning Back

Julie Iskow, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Workiva, and member of the Forbes Technology Council, shares her thoughts on the future ESG.


The corporate social responsibility initiative known as ESG (environmental, social and governance) is having its day in the sun. The Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) directive in Europe, along with the ambitious Biden plan for achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, moved ESG up the corporate priority list. And it could open a $23 trillion global clean energy market by 2030.

Legislative initiatives atop recent climate disasters, the pandemic and civil rights protests have ignited important conversations. Companies can no longer rely on occasional donations to convenient environmental causes. A new generation sensitive to the longtail impact of investments is judging companies on performance metrics beyond financial returns. They demand demonstrable evidence of sustainable practices and community concern, and they’re pushing companies toward ethical reporting standards of those practices.

The current ESG reporting challenge is complex. It’s an onerous and time-consuming effort to gather, organize and map data to multiple reporting standards and frameworks for evolving disclosure requirements to ratings agencies, shareholders and other company stakeholders. To understand and compare how companies are becoming better guardians of the planet, there needs to be an easier way to report ESG data uniformly to investors and other audiences...

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