Skip to main content

BY Michael Kraten, PhD, CPA

In an article that was first published by the Wall Street Journal on January 9, and that was later republished by MSN News, a pair of Journal columnists suggested that after “years of simmering investor backlash, political pressure and legal threats … a number of business leaders are now making a conscious effort to avoid the once widely used acronym for such initiatives.”

Their evidence? Among other facts, they noted that “At Coca-Cola, the company published a “Business & ESG” report in 2022 … in 2023, it was released as the “Business and Sustainability” report.”

That is indeed true. What the columnists didn’t mention, though, was that the 2021 report (issued in 2022) contained 86 pages. One year later, the slightly renamed report actually grew to 88 pages. In addition, whereas the Table of Contents page of the first report proclaimed the firm’s dedication to “building a more sustainable future for our business and for the planet,” the second report’s Table of Contents page noted that the company’s “strategy is grounded in our core values and commitment to social and environmental responsibility.”

Values? Social and environmental responsibility? That language certainly doesn’t indicate that the firm is bashful about its commitment to reporting on Environmental, Social, and Governance matters.

The Journal itself acknowledges that these changes are “subtle.” So subtle, perhaps, that opinion leaders on both sides of the ESG issue may have reason to be displeased.

On the one hand, those who support ESG initiatives may not appreciate the firm’s avoidance of the acronym. But on the other hand, those who oppose ESG programs may not be thrilled that the report itself has barely changed at all.

Originally published at All rights reserved by author.