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KPMG Study Reveals Surprising Plan for ESG Spending by Companies

Roughly 90% of companies plan to dedicate more financial resources to ESG over the next three years, the study found.

By Lily Meier, Bloomberg News (TNS)

Despite the recent anti-ESG pushback in the U.S., many companies—roughly 90% in a survey by KPMG—plan to dedicate more financial resources to ESG over the next three years.

About 43% of those surveyed by KPMG are looking to add employees dedicated to environmental, social and governance factors, while roughly 40% plan to invest in ESG-specific software and 38% are looking to train or educate employees, according to the survey. 

Most large companies are pressing ahead with plans to improve their ESG capabilities, even as almost two dozen Republican-led U.S. states push through anti-ESG legislation. In Texas, for example, it’s now illegal for some state-associated entities like pension funds to invest in ESG funds. 

“The key reason at the moment is really regulatory pressure,” said Maura Hodge, KPMG’s U.S. ESG Audit Leader, referring to the increased interest in ESG. Regulations are forcing companies to “inject the same level of rigor into its sustainability reporting that is required of financial reporting,” she said. 

Just over three-quarters of the 550 board members, executives and managers surveyed globally by KPMG said their organizations are planning to restructure teams with a focus on ESG. Some companies—around 24%—are even planning to significantly increase incorporation of ESG within “non-ESG” roles, while 59% expect to moderately increase ESG within these positions. 

“Historically, sustainability reporting has sat with a very small group of under-resourced people,” Hodge said. Now as requirements evolve, “the amount of effort and rigor that needs to go into reporting has changed substantially,” she said.  

In Europe, job postings that include the term ESG have increased, according to a recent report by Jefferies Financial Group Inc. By contrast, employment data tracked by Live Data Technologies found that ESG job departures outpaced arrivals during half the months of last year, marking the reversal of a multiyear trend, according to the Wall Street Journal. The biggest industry exits occurred at tech giants including Meta Platforms Inc., Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, the Journal reported. 

While ESG reporting is becoming more commonplace, almost half of the companies surveyed say they still rely on antiquated spreadsheets to manage their data, KPMG said. That may have to change with most large companies planning to increase their investments in sustainability-related software and workforce capabilities in the next few years.

“The biggest challenge that companies will have using spreadsheet reporting is just being able to accelerate their reporting to be on the timeline that regulation is requiring of them,” Hodge said.

In addition to meeting compliance requirements, the survey found that many companies also view building ESG capabilities as a key tool for enhancing organizational performance. According to KPMG, improving ESG data management and reporting capabilities are seen as the best way to enhance the integration of sustainability goals with overall business objectives.


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