Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

To what extent is corruption currently addressed as part of existing environment, social and governance (ESG) reporting standards and initiatives?

Summary

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) has become an important approach to business that seeks to go beyond only maximising profits. ESG assessments evaluate a company’s performance on environmental, social and corporate governance issues and thus inform investing decisions. Among the most important initiatives in terms of reach, are the UN Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), but many private rating and index providers have arisen in the past few years, like MSCI and Bloomberg. As part of good governance, ESG aims to evaluate a company’s policies and actions in combating corruption. Although incorporating anti-corruption is important, the diversity between ESG providers and their reliance on company’s voluntary disclosure of information has meant these standards currently only give part of the picture.

Contents

  1. Background: brief overview of corruption forms in the private sector
  2. Environment, social and governance (ESG)
  3. Relevant ESG reporting standards and initiatives
  • United Nations Global Compact
  • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
  • OECD
  • ISO
  • Unified standards
  • Large-scale private ESG providers
  • European Union
  • World Economic Forum (WEF)

4. ESG and corruption

5. Potential entry points

6. References

Main points

  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards are becoming an important tool for investment decisions.
  • The two biggest ESG framework providers are the United Nations Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). However, more private entities provide ESG rating and index services that have complicated the comparability of the results.
  • Both the UN Global Compact and the GRI have anti-corruption as part of the key issues companies should address.
  • The most promising progress is moving towards a global baseline of standards. Anti-corruption and what companies should do and report on this regard should be a central point when developing this baseline.

Authors

Gabriela Camacho, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Reviewer

Kaunain Rahman, Transparency International

Date

15/06/2022

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