Goldman Sachs executive on demystifying, measuring the ‘S’ in ESG

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Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen companies, investors and regulators put a growing emphasis on the ‘S’ in ESG. But there is still a common refrain in the ESG world that social issues are nebulous or difficult to measure.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we hear how one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. is tackling the ‘S’ and making it measurable.

"The 'S' does get less focus,” says Asahi Pompey, Global Head of Corporate Engagement at Goldman Sachs. “People still think it's kind of amorphous. What exactly is the ‘S’? Is it in hiring? Is it in retention? Is it recruiting? Is it investments in communities? Here's the answer: It's all of those."

Asahi talks about how Goldman Sachs is adapting its internal policies, its investment approach and its business models with the ‘S’ in mind. For example, earlier this year, the company launched its One Million Black Women initiative, committing more than $10 billion to advance racial equity and economic opportunity by investing in Black women. And in 2020, Goldman Sachs announced that it would stop underwriting IPOs for companies in the U.S. and Europe that don’t have diverse boards.

In the interview, Asahi also talks about corporate America’s changing approach to social issues broadly and racial equity in particular. But she cautions that those changes could be short-lived if society does not keep the issue on the front burner.

“Corporate America has a long way to go in order to drive sustained progress on the 'S,'” Asahi says. “Now, we've seen commitments across the industry and various sectors. That being said … it can't be episodic, and it has to be sustained, and it has to be measurable. We all know things get done when they're measured.”

Photo credit: Goldman Sachs

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