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IR Magazine Fall 2021 edition

 What to talk about when we talk about ESG

From political contributions to the CSRD

As discussions around ESG become more sophisticated, so too will the solutions. At IR Magazine, it’s our view that the IR team should play a leading role in determining which aspects of a company’s ESG story to tell at different events and in different disclosures.

Just as management discusses different issues on the earnings call and at the AGM, in the near future we can expect tighter definitions of what to talk about when we talk about ESG. Tim Human explores this idea in our cover feature, profiling the efforts of several leading IR teams to tell their stories across a number of IR-led media, from ESG investor days and factbooks to earnings calls and topic-specific reports.

In North America, many of us are holding our breath to see what form of ESG reporting the SEC may mandate later this year, but in Europe there are already more prescriptive rules in place. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive could increase the number of European companies that need to report on sustainability from 11,600 to 49,000. Tim Human profiles the new directive and looks at what IR teams need to know.

Another emerging ESG topic that could hit the headlines next proxy season is political lobbying and spending. After the January 6 US insurrection, 190 companies suspended contributions to politicians who voted not to certify the results of the presidential election. But the experts I spoke to believe it’s only a matter of time until these companies resume their donations – indeed, some already have. Shareholder advocates plan to ramp up the number of proposals filed this year and aren’t afraid to mount opposition to board directors. With institutions like BlackRock supporting some political lobbying and spending proposals this year, there’s the potential for embarrassment next proxy season.

Back in the more traditional realm of IR, some economists predict that we could enter a bear market before the end of the year. There are some experienced IROs out there who have only ever done the job in a bull market, so in this issue Garnet Roach looks at the lessons we can learn from executives in the energy sector, which has been more depressed, and from the messaging around the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Beyond that, we profile Cellular Goods’ IPO, learn from a recent corporate cyber-security breach and discover how China plans to hit its radical climate goals. This issue is also released shortly after the two-year anniversary of The Business Roundtable’s statement on corporate purpose. To mark this milestone, our research team explores the importance of different stakeholder groups to investors, to help IR teams shape their messaging around stakeholder management in the future.

As ever, we value your feedback so let us know if there are topics you’d like to see covered. In the meantime, I hope you were able to enjoy some time off during the summer and are returning to your (home) office recharged.

Ben Ashwell

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