When Did ESG Scores Start?

In recent years, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors have gained significant attention in the business and investment world. Companies are increasingly being evaluated not just on their financial performance, but also on their impact on the environment, society, and corporate governance. ESG scores have become an essential tool for investors, providing them with insights into a company’s sustainability practices. But when did ESG scores start? Let’s delve into the history of ESG scores and their evolution over time.

ESG scores have become an integral part of sustainable investing, but their origin can be traced back several decades.

As society’s awareness of environmental and social issues grew, so did the need for a systematic approach to evaluate companies’ non-financial performance.

This led to the development of ESG scores, which aim to quantify and compare a company’s sustainability efforts.

The Emergence of ESG Factors

The concept of ESG factors started gaining traction in the 1970s when concerns about pollution, resource depletion, and social inequality became more prominent. As environmental disasters and social conflicts drew public attention, investors began to recognize the potential risks and opportunities associated with these issues.

The need for a framework to evaluate companies’ environmental and social practices became evident.

Early Attempts at Measurement

In the 1980s and 1990s, various organizations and researchers began exploring methodologies to measure companies’ ESG performance. These early attempts laid the groundwork for the development of ESG scores.

However, the lack of consistent data and standardized metrics made it challenging to create a comprehensive and universally accepted assessment framework.

Standardization and Development of ESG Scores

Over time, efforts were made to standardize ESG metrics and reporting practices. In the early 2000s, organizations such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) emerged to promote transparency and disclosure of companies’ ESG information.

These initiatives played a vital role in shaping the ESG landscape and paved the way for the development of ESG scores.

Adoption by Institutional Investors

As awareness of ESG issues grew among investors, institutional asset managers started incorporating ESG factors into their investment decision-making processes. Recognizing the potential impact of ESG performance on long-term financial returns, major institutional investors began demanding ESG data and scores from companies. This increased demand further accelerated the development of robust ESG scoring methodologies.

Integration into Investment Strategies

ESG scores gradually found their place within investment strategies. The integration of ESG factors into portfolio management allowed investors to align their investments with their values and sustainability objectives.

The growing interest in sustainable investing led to the development of specialized ESG indices, ESG-focused funds, and the incorporation of ESG scores into investment models.

Impact on Corporate Practices

As ESG scores gained prominence, companies became more conscious of their environmental and social footprints. To attract responsible investors and improve their ESG ratings, organizations started implementing sustainable practices and adopting more transparent reporting frameworks.

ESG scores became a catalyst for positive change, incentivizing companies to address environmental and social challenges proactively.

Challenges and Criticisms

Despite their widespread adoption, ESG scores are not without challenges and criticisms. One significant concern is the lack of standardized methodologies across different ESG rating agencies, which can lead to inconsistencies in scores.

Additionally, there are ongoing debates about the materiality and relevance of certain ESG factors, as well as the potential for greenwashing, where companies may present a more favorable ESG image than their actual practices reflect.

Future Outlook for ESG Scores

ESG scores are likely to continue evolving as stakeholders demand greater transparency and accountability from companies. Efforts to standardize ESG reporting and scoring methodologies will play a crucial role in enhancing the credibility and reliability of ESG scores.

With advancements in data analytics and technology, ESG scoring models are expected to become more sophisticated, enabling investors to make more informed decisions based on comprehensive and comparable ESG information.


ESG scores have come a long way since their inception. From early attempts to measure companies’ non-financial performance to their integration into investment strategies, ESG scores have become a vital tool for investors seeking to align their investments with sustainability objectives.

As the world faces pressing environmental and social challenges, the significance of ESG scores is likely to grow, encouraging companies to adopt more responsible practices and enabling investors to drive positive change.


Are ESG scores the same across different rating agencies?

ESG scores can vary across rating agencies due to differences in methodologies and criteria. It’s essential to understand the specific approach used by each agency and compare scores within the same context.

Do ESG scores impact investment decisions?

ESG scores can influence investment decisions, especially for investors who prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. Higher ESG scores may attract more investment, while lower scores could raise concerns among investors.

Can ESG scores help identify sustainable investment opportunities?

Yes, ESG scores can be valuable in identifying sustainable investment opportunities. They provide insights into companies’ environmental and social practices, helping investors align their investments with their values and long-term objectives.

How often are ESG scores updated?

ESG scores are typically updated on an annual or semi-annual basis, depending on the rating agency. However, some agencies may provide more frequent updates or real-time scoring for specific industries.

Are ESG scores relevant for all types of companies?

ESG scores are relevant for companies across various sectors. While certain industries, such as energy and manufacturing, may face more significant ESG challenges, all companies can benefit from integrating sustainability practices into their operations.

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