Civil society must be in this effort

The movement toward ESG reporting certainly highlights important issues, such as climate change and the treatment of workers, and it is welcome that corporations want to engage in the debate. But the belief that companies can solve such pressing issues—through pursuing ESG standards or otherwise—is deeply flawed. Despite purportedly having good intentions, many corporations are not genuinely interested in bettering the world, and some use ESG metrics or other sustainability measures mainly to launder their reputations. Fixing some of the world’s most vexing problems will require that businesses dramatically alter their own practices, and it makes little sense to entrust systemic reform to the very institutions that themselves require change.

Instead, action must come from elsewhere: namely, governments. States must impose new regulations on the market economy to ensure that businesses are delivering shared productivity and social progress. Politicians will need to create laws that make markets work well and embed values—such as environmental sustainability or higher wages for low-income workers—that reflect the mainstream views of society. Renewed regulatory activism must include restoring competition through effective antitrust enforcement, legislating for the national interest over global profits, and tilting the balance of economic returns from older, wealthier generations to younger, poorer ones. It should also mean regulations to fight climate change, such as emission limits, mandates to end the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles, or bans on the use of certain materials.

From The Revolution Will Not Be Privatized | Foreign Affairs

I agree with the limits of corporate social responsibility. However, government is not the only response. Civil society needs to hold both groups accountable. This highly localized sector has to engage in sector wide projects to aggregate data and demonstrate the reality of the experiences of so many who cannot access the resources offered by either government or business. And they must stand firm in holding open the space for civic engagement against the limiting action of so many companies.

#CivilSociety #democracy