NEW YORK (October 13, 2020) — ISS ESG, the responsible investment arm of Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS), today announced the results of a survey of leading global asset managers gauging the extent to which COVID-19 has impacted their consideration of ESG in both investment decision-making and stewardship or engagement activities.

The survey, conducted in Q3 2020, consisted of 25 questions and received responses from 65 leading global asset managers. The survey elicited sentiment toward the integration of ESG in investment activities both before and since the outbreak of COVID-19; any change in investor behavior related to ESG investing; engagement with portfolio companies by frequency; as well as respondents’ expectations for the future of ESG investing.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 5 percent of respondents report that social issues attract more of their attention now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Governance remains the most important ESG factor in the investment analysis and stewardship activities of 86 percent of respondents.
  • Respondents report the primary drivers of growth in their ESG engagements include client and stakeholder demand, racial inequality and diversity, and regulatory changes.
  • 1 percent of respondents expect future ESG ratings to place a greater weight on workplace safety, treatment of employees, diversity and inclusion, as well as supply chain labor dynamics.
  • 5 percent of respondents have either already added or intend to add new staff to manage ESG-related issues.

The survey’s author, Maura Souders, Associate, ISS ESG said: “It is clear from this survey that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major influence on many investors’ thinking in terms of ESG research and integration. A heightened focus on social issues is paired with an increased willingness to invest in an in-house ESG capacity.”

Bonnie Saynay, Managing Director, Global Head of ESG Research at ISS ESG said: “At ISS ESG, we recognize the importance of transparency, consistency and quality around providers’ research methodologies, and the expectation that research solutions will evolve to meet changing investor expectations with regard to dynamic materiality in a post-pandemic world. We continue to deliver the industry’s gold standard ESG data and research intelligence to underpin sustainable development and look forward to further engagement with our global client base.”

Download a copy of the full survey results report here.

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