S&P 500 Executives Back Off ‘ESG’ Reports in Earnings Calls

Excerpt from Bloomberg Law, January 2024

  • S&P 500 mentions of ESG reports have fallen 30% since 2021 peak
  • Walmart, Occidental, Rollins last cited ESG reports that year

Walmart, Occidental Petroleum and pest control conglomerate Rollins share a common approach to environmental, social and governance issues: their executives are talking less about their ESG reports, without abandoning the work behind them.

The companies are among 13 S&P 500 members whose earnings calls dropped direct references to ESG, sustainability and corporate responsibility reports and other similar publications after 2021, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis. ESG-related report mentions among S&P 500 companies overall peaked in 2021 on earnings calls before decreasing in 2022 and 2023………..

ESG’s Future

Earnings calls aside, companies are increasingly citing ESG-related issues and reports in at least one area. The number of ESG-related report mentions in annual 10-K reports summarizing companies’ operations and financial performance for the Securities and Exchange Commission has grown every year since 2019, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis in December.

For instance, Walmart, Occidental and Rollins all discuss elements of their ESG-related reports in their 10-Ks and elsewhere, regardless of whether they mention the publications by name……..

Read the full story on Bloomberg Law


While specific mention of ESG related topics are not as common on earnings calls, the work corporations are doing in those three pillars continues. This is not surprising given the competing pressure companies have to discuss impacts of inflation, supply chain disruptions, geopolitical issues and more on financial reporting. Investors still want to hear profitability, bottom line details before risk mitigation stories. So while ESG doesn’t ‘seem’ to be as important, the SEC during the Biden administration has ramped up its scrutiny of climate disclosures and other ESG reporting, with the agency targeting April to issue requirements for companies to share their emissions data with investors. California and the European Union also approved corporate emissions reporting mandates, with some starting to take effect this year. The ESG Shop can help you check your readiness or validate you are still reporting all that investors expect.