Washington Business Journal Commentary “Don’t Believe What You Hear.  ESG Isn’t Dead”

Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals President & CEO Assesses the State of ESG, Offers Insights for the Year Ahead

 – As diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts come increasingly under attack, Carolyn Berkowitz, president and CEO of the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals(ACCP), the nation’s leading advocate for corporate social impact professionals, has penned a guest commentary piece in the Washington Business Journal assessing the state of ESG including corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) programmatic efforts in 2023.  

In the Washington Business Journal guest piece titled, “Don’t Believe What You Hear. ESG Isn’t Dead,” Berkowitz reflects:

“2023 has been a year of contradictions in corporate social impact and ESG, equal part triumphant and challenging. Customers, investors, employees, and community stakeholders have continued to call upon corporations to embrace social responsibility, from how they make their products to how they engage employees and communities, and everything in between. And companies are triumphantly rising to the occasion.”

As the environment around ESG, CSR, and DEI become increasingly fraught with political attacks, Berkowitz looks ahead to 2024, as she calls on companies to “stay the course and double down on CSR & ESG practices. In an era of heightened societal polarization, companies are expected to take stands on critical social issues. These are the realities of today’s marketplace, which are unlikely to change any time soon.”

“Ongoing attacks on ESG, including corporate DEI, social responsibility (CSR), and sustainability, are expected to increase as politicians look to score points with their base during a divisive election cycle. The financial and reputational benefits of ESG practices will far outlive this election cycle and other external short-term forces,” says Carolyn Berkowitz, president and CEO of the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals (ACCP), the nation’s leading advocate for corporate social impact professionals.

Ms. Berkowitz is available to offer additional insights about the key issues to watch that will likely impact the issue area landscape in 2024, including: 

  • Expected U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations, which will alter the way companies invest, conduct, and engage in CSR and ESG activities. 
  • The Supreme Court Affirmative Action decision last year and other pending cases regarding affirmative action and how they will potentially impact corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. 
  • The impact on ESG & CSR initiatives in an election year where political actors will continue to attack “woke” companies for their community investments, actions, and values. 

“In this turbulent environment, corporate executives must do three things:  First, stay the course. Recognize that your most important stakeholders – customers, employees, and investors – expect you to continue to advance commitments to responsible business. Despite the false narratives, companies cannot afford to be wishy-washy without losing hard-earned stakeholder trust. Second, understand and play the long game. Investing in your company’s ESG practices has long-term financial benefits that increase its value and mitigate risk. New and expected ESG-related regulations demand action, data, and transparency. Finally, corporations must lead with their values, or they will become rudderless. Now is the time to reaffirm your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by continuing to invest in equitable business practices and inclusive leadership. Corporate leaders must demonstrably uphold their values and sustain diversity initiatives that foster innovation, benefiting business and society. The bottom line is that environmental, social, and governance are good for business and provide a competitive advantage,” continued Berkowitz. 

In a recent Forbes column titled, “Following the Data: Why Companies Should Prioritize ESG and Tips for Success,” Berkowitz pushes back against anti-ESG groups and individuals in the vocal minority peddling false and misleading information attacking corporations for enacting business policies that engage employees, enhance bottom-lines, help grow our economy, and strengthen communities. 

“Many CSR & ESG programs flourished in 2023, particularly related to employee volunteerism and responding to the needs in community. Purpose-driven companies rose to the occasion despite the challenging environment. As we head into 2024 against an even more challenging environment, it will continue to test the mettle of executives and their commitment to being good corporate citizens. Now is the time to double down on commitments to CSR and ESG practices,” Berkowitz concluded.

# # #

The Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals (ACCP) is the preeminent membership organization advancing the practice of corporate social impact. ACCP increases the effectiveness of CSR & ESG professionals and their companies by sharing knowledge, fostering solutions, and cultivating inclusive and supportive peer communities. ACCP amplifies the voices of its practitioner network to elevate strategies that work, provide innovative solutions, and expand impact. 

Thank you for your submission.