The End of ESG

Alex Edmans

2023 | Academic | ESG Ratings

ESG is both extremely important and nothing special. It’s extremely important since it affects a company’s long-term shareholder value, and thus is relevant to all academics and practitioners, not just those with ESG in their research interests or job title. It also affects a company’s impact on wider society. This is relevant for anyone who cares about more than just financial returns, as well as for ensuring that capitalism works for all and safeguarding the public’s trust in business. But ESG is also nothing special. It shouldn’t be put on a pedestal compared to other intangible assets that affect both financial and social value, such as management quality, corporate culture, and innovative capability. Like other intangibles, ESG mustn’t be reduced to a set of numbers, and companies needn’t be forced to report on matters that aren’t value-relevant.