Reader Poll Results: ESG Priorities

Reader Poll Results: ESG Priorities

In October, we polled readers on whether or not their companies have environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities. Here's what they said.

October 31, 2022

According to NerdWallet, ESG priorities "are non-financial factors investors use to measure an investment or company's sustainability. Environmental factors look at the conservation of the natural world, social factors examine how a company treats people both inside and outside the company and governance factors consider how a company is run."

In October, we polled readers on whether or not their companies have environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities. The results weren't great.

Here's what six readers had to say:

0% said yes, and the priorities are clearly communicated to all employees
0% said yes, but they aren't clearly communicated
67% said no, and I wish we did
0% said no, and I don't care33% said I don't know

In a column earlier this year, frequent Quality Assurance & Food Safety contributors Dr. Darin Detwiler and Francine L. Shaw wrote about how a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities might be able to predict food safety risks. 

At the time, they wrote: Concerns seemingly unrelated to food may not impact its safety, but they do paint a clearer picture of a company’s record of compliance and ethics — perhaps providing reason to question a company’s state of regulatory compliance.

One case to consider is Abbott Laboratories. In 2012, the company paid $1.5 billion to resolve criminal and civil investigations of off-label promotion of the medication Depakote. In 2013, it paid $5.475 million to settle claims of paying kickbacks to physicians. And in 2021, the company paid more than $198 million to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act.

Today, families are struggling with a worldwide formula shortage after the FDA requested Abbott Labs recall its brand of powdered infant formula products because of possible Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella contamination.

Nearly all recalls and outbreaks are identified after people are harmed. Not every failure in food safety can be stopped before it happens, but without looking at a variety of indicators — including ESG measurables that go beyond food concerns — consumers will continue to be counted as acceptable liabilities.

And there are more financial components related to ESG. According to a Harvard Business Review story, "an ESG focus can help management reduce capital costs and improve the firm’s valuation. That’s because as more investors look to put money into companies with stronger ESG performance, larger pools of capital will be available to those companies."