Evolving Landscape of ESG Integration: Navigating Investor Choice and Fiduciary Obligations (Part Two of Two)

Asset managers, investors and businesses often contend with the perception of being disconnected from society; nevertheless, it is vital to recognize that they constitute integral components of the societal fabric. Their decisions and actions wield profound consequences that affect individuals and communities on a broad scale, which is currently playing out in the ongoing adoption and integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in investing decisions. The SEC’s Division of Investment Management (IM) organized a panel to explore asset managers’ impact on society at large, highlighting the interconnectedness of corporate governance and civic democracy within a broader ecosystem. The discussion featured Dalia O. Blass, partner at Sullivan & Cromwell and former Director of IM; Carsten Stendevad, co‑CIO for sustainability at Bridgewater Associates; and Lisa M. Fairfax, presidential professor at University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. This second article in a two‑part series explores the challenges and considerations associated with navigating the issue of investor choice, integrating ESG factors into investment practices and the fiduciary implications involved with how asset managers navigate those dynamics. The first article described the entrenched positions and battle lines on ESG issues and the role of investors in ESG integration. See “Current Challenges and Constraints in Accessing Capital for PE Funds and Investments” (May 4, 2023).

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