Most companies continue to behave as if environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues do not concern them. According to a poll that GlobalData ran in Q3 2021, only 33% of businesses have changed their behaviour in the last year to achieve ESG goals. An additional 15% claimed that their companies continued to implement existing ESG practices. That means that less than half of the corporate world is taking some form of ESG action.

It is also striking that 30% of respondents did not know if their company had taken any action on ESG. This might mean that a significant number of companies are not effectively communicating their strategies or that the actual number of companies not taking action is higher than the 22% figure reported.

In the same poll, GlobalData asked if respondents thought that companies were fully committed to ESG. Almost a quarter said that it is just a marketing exercise for most companies, and only 27% believed that companies are fully committed. The poll results show how much work the corporate world still needs to do on implementing and communicating their ESG strategies.

Despite highlighting shortcomings, GlobalData’s Thematic Sentiment Analysis polls also reveal some encouraging signs, as attitudes seem to be improving. One sign of improvement is that the share of respondents who said that the business community is fully committed to ESG is at its highest level since GlobalData started asking the question in Q1 2021.

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These encouraging signs cannot hide the fact that many companies are not taking any form of ESG action or that the business community is not perceived as taking the issue seriously. This should be a concern for CEOs and the public in general.

On the environmental front, action is particularly urgent to stymie climate change. As global political leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow for COP26, business leaders should not wait for new national plans to be drawn up before taking action. Action needs to be taken now.