The backlash against ESG | Josie Pagani



The backlash against ESG

Since the dawn of humanity, people have been trying to define what it means to be good. Financiers haven’t suddenly worked it all out. Great religions and political ideologies have risen and fallen attempting to resolve the source of moral virtue. We can’t agree on the source of ethics, let alone whose clerics are qualified to interpret divine insights.

I want to make the world a better, more equal place, stop greedy corporates from incinerating the planet, and uphold diversity in the workplace. Contestable ESG ethics are unlikely to achieve those goals. Extremely wealthy fund managers are not going to make inequality the ethical priority. The E in ESG has dominated because they have nothing to lose from focusing on the environment, while fair wages are going to be a harder boardroom discussion.

All of which explains the brewing backlash to ESG. The backlash is not a rejection of trying to make a difference, or of using your savings to promote worthwhile ends. It’s a backlash against trying to make morality a financial transaction, against seeing goodness and morality as reducible to a profit centre.

Read the column on The Post, here.

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