Embedding Sustainability Performance and Long-Term Strategy in the Earnings Call

The practice of disclosing corporate Environmental, Social and Governance performance information continues to evolve, and the frequency of ESG disclosures in investor-facing discussions, including Investor Day presentations and non-deal roadshows, continues to grow. But even with these developments, the corporate-investor dialogue about ESG and long-term strategy, and their expected effects on long-run profitability and value, has continued to lag. This seems particularly evident in the quarterly earnings call.

In this article, the authors review the work of NYU’s Center for Sustainable Business, in collaboration with Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP), in encouraging companies to work ESG themes and performance into their quarterly earnings calls. After discussing the reasons for the relatively slow progress in this important disclosure venue, including interviews with sell-side analysts, the authors propose practical approaches that can guide companies, regardless of industry or market cap, in delivering this content in a way that is valuable to both buy-side and sell-side equity analysts.