Four Things No One Will Tell You About ESG Data

11 Pages Posted: 27 May 2020

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: Spring 2019


As the ESG finance field and the use of ESG data in investment decision‐making continue to grow, the authors seek to shed light on several important aspects of ESG measurement and data. This article is intended to provide a useful guide for the rapidly rising number of people entering the field. The authors focus on the following:. What can be done to address these problems with ESG data? Companies should ‘take control of the ESG data narrative’ by proactively shaping disclosure instead of being overwhelmed by survey requests. To that end, companies should ‘customize’ their metrics to some extent, while at the same time seeking to self‐regulate by reaching agreement with industry peers on a ‘reasonable baseline’ of standardized ESG metrics designed to achieve comparability. Investors are urged to push for more meaningful ESG disclosure by narrowing the demand for ESG data into somewhat more standardized, but still manageable metrics. Stock exchanges should consider issuing—and perhaps even mandating—guidelines for ESG disclosures designed in collaboration with companies, investors, and regulators. And data providers should come to agreement on best practices and become as transparent as possible about their methodologies and the reliability of their data.

Suggested Citation

Kotsantonis, Sakis and Serafeim, George, Four Things No One Will Tell You About ESG Data (Spring 2019). Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Vol. 31, Issue 2, pp. 50-58, 2019, Available at SSRN: or

Sakis Kotsantonis (Contact Author)

KKS Advisors

39-41 North Road
London, N79DP
United Kingdom

George Serafeim

Harvard Business School ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States


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