News Release: 58 Organizations Oppose Anti-ESG Agenda


July 12, 2023

William Pierre-Louis, Jr

58 Organizations Oppose Anti-ESG Agenda

Washington, D.C. — Ahead of upcoming House Financial Services Committee hearings on utilizing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in investments, Americans for Financial Reform has submitted a letter for the record, backed by 58 organizations, that expresses strong opposition to the anti-ESG agenda. The letter specifically responds to a recent ESG Working Group memorandum on the subject and a series of bills they are proposing.

“The majority’s policy agenda would insulate the management of public companies from investor input and accountability, and undermine regulations that would equip investors with more information to make better decisions,” said Natalia Renta, senior policy counsel for corporate governance and power at Americans for Financial Reform. “Investors — many of whom are workers saving for retirement — deserve to have a full and complete picture when investing their money and the ability to hold companies they’re invested in accountable.” 

For many years, shareholders have engaged with companies, filed shareholder proposals, and voted their shares in line with their interests to push companies to address issues affecting their long-term investments, including those related to workplace safety, human capital, racial equity, environmental sustainability, and workers’ freedom of association. After some notable victories in these arenas, some Republicans in Congress are now seeking to shut off investors’ access to these tools. 

“We hope people see through the fossil fuel industry-backed pursuit of policies that serve short-term corporate interests at the expense of working people, their retirement security, and corporate accountability,” said Jessica Church, Take On Wall Street advocacy and political manager at Americans for Financial Reform.

The letter was signed by labor unions, climate justice organizations, responsible investing groups, asset managers, civil society organizations, and more.

Key Excerpts from Letter

Because their retirement security depends on the ability of the many public companies they are invested in to engage in long-term, sustainable value creation, workers are incentivized to use the tools at their disposal to push companies toward this goal and away from short-term, risky value extraction that jeopardizes the long-term value of their investments.

These two rules [the SEC climate-risk disclosure rule and the SEC human capital management disclosure rule] aim to give investors access to consistent, comparable, and decision-useful data that would help them and asset managers get a fuller picture of risks and opportunities to make investment decisions and for the valuation of securities.

Behind this policy agenda that threatens investor protection and corporate accountability is the fossil fuel industry, bankrolling efforts to protect their own short-term interests regardless of what it means for workers’ retirement security, our financial system, and beyond.

Unfortunately, this effort often involves the use of anti-woke rhetoric.  Although woke simply means to be aware of racial and social injustices, some are using anti-woke rhetoric to fuel racial resentment in pursuit of policies that serve short-term corporate interests at the expense of working people, their retirement security, and corporate accountability.