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Record-High Number of S&P 500 Companies Discuss “ESG” on Q2 Earnings Calls


By John Butters  |  September 10, 2021

During each corporate earnings season, it is not unusual for companies to comment on their ongoing corporate goals and initiatives. Given the growing focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors by investors, did companies in the S&P 500 comment on these factors during their earnings conference calls for the second quarter?

FactSet Document Search (which allows users to search for key words or phrases across multiple document types) was used to answer this question. Through Document Search, FactSet searched for the term “ESG” in the conference call transcripts of all the S&P 500 companies that conducted earnings conference calls from June 15 through September 5.

Of these companies, 150 cited the term “ESG” (in reference to environmental, social, and governance factors) during their earnings calls. This number marks a tie with the previous quarter for the highest overall number of S&P 500 companies citing “ESG” on earnings calls going back at least 10 years. At the sector level, the Industrials (29) and Financials (28) sectors had the highest number of S&P 500 companies citing “ESG” on earnings calls for Q2. Combined, these two sectors accounted for more than one third of the total number of S&P 500 companies discussing “ESG” on earnings calls for Q2 2021.


On a quarter-over-quarter basis, there was no change in the overall number of S&P 500 companies citing “ESG” on earnings calls in Q2 2021 relative to Q1 2021. At the sector level, five of the 11 sectors recorded an increase in the number of companies citing “ESG” on a quarter-over-quarter basis, led by the Industrials (+6) and Information Technology (+6) sectors.


Of the 150 S&P 500 companies that cited “ESG” on earnings calls for Q2 2021, 19 (13%) also discussed the terms “decarbonization” or “clean energy” (or both) during their earnings calls and 18 (12%) also discussed the terms “diversity, equity, and inclusion” or “diversity and inclusion” (or both) during their earnings calls.

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The information contained in this article is not investment advice. FactSet does not endorse or recommend any investments and assumes no liability for any consequence relating directly or indirectly to any action or inaction taken based on the information contained in this article.

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John Butters

Vice President, Senior Earnings Analyst

Mr. John Butters is Vice President and Senior Earnings Analyst at FactSet. His weekly research report, “Earnings Insight,” provides analysis and commentary on trends in corporate earnings data for the S&P 500 including revisions to estimates, year-over-year growth, performance relative to expectations, and valuations. He is a widely used source for the media and has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business News, and the Business News Network. In addition, he has been cited by numerous print and online publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, MarketWatch, and Yahoo! Finance. Mr. Butters has over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to FactSet in January 2011, he worked for more than 10 years at Thomson Reuters (Thomson Financial), most recently as Director of U.S. Earnings Research (2007-2010).