Environment, social responsibility, and corporate governance have of late emerged as key themes for investors in India. The asset size of ESG funds has ballooned nearly five times to Rs 12,300 crore over the last couple of years. Earlier this week, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) launched NSE Prime, a framework that allows companies to submit to standards of corporate governance that are higher than those required by existing regulations.
Market experts say investors in funds and companies would do well to keep the factors of environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and corporate governance in mind for long-term sustainability of investment returns. However, some are sceptical of the possibility of “greenwashing”, and of fund managers over-weighing certain stocks once other options are deemed non-compliant with ESG investment parameters.
The expression is used synonymously with sustainable and socially responsible investing. While selecting a stock for investment, an ESG fund shortlists companies that score high on environment, social responsibility, and corporate governance, and then looks at financial factors. With the overall increase in awareness, and with regulations moving in this direction, investors are re-evaluating traditional approaches and considering the impact of their decisions on the planet.