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BLOG. 3 min read

How to Manage the Increasingly Polarized Approaches to ESG

In recent years, firms have displayed varying approaches toward embracing or rejecting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment strategies, reflecting the evolving landscape of corporate sustainability and responsibility.

Many companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of ESG for risk management and business resilience. Amid global challenges, such as military conflicts and natural disasters leading to humanitarian crises, ESG is viewed as a vital component in managing risks and enhancing business resilience. A significant 71% of C-suite and functional leaders anticipate a growing significance of ESG in corporate performance (Thomson Reuters

In terms of ESG litigation and regulatory developments, companies, especially in the U.S., are facing increasing challenges from shareholders. Lawsuits filed by shareholders allege that companies have not lived up to their stated commitments to environmental and diversity goals.

Recent cases include:

  • The state of Tennessee filed a lawsuit against BlackRock, a pioneer in ESG investment strategies, alleging “a series of unlawful ESG-related misrepresentations” made by the firm. (
  • Cambridge University could end a centuries-old relationship with Barclays over continued fossil fuel financing (

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed rules requiring detailed ESG disclosures, contributing to the scrutiny faced by companies. However, there is also a countervailing force in the form of state officials in the U.S. seeking to restrain ESG initiatives​.

The legislative and regulatory landscape of ESG is growing, with different approaches in the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. primarily relies on voluntary ESG and sustainability disclosures by companies, while the SEC is working on establishing mandatory reporting requirements. Europe, on the other hand, has introduced significant ESG legislation, including the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), targeting carbon leakage​.

From a political perspective, ESG is under increased scrutiny and criticism, especially in the U.S. Skepticism has grown due to the lack of clear definitions, standards, regulations and ESG reporting systems. This political debate, and in some cases, backlash, underscores the challenges firms face in aligning their ESG strategies with different stakeholder expectations​.

Implications for Financial Risk Management

A large number of companies are integrating ESG strategies, and by extension climate risk, into their financial risk management practices. The impetus stems from the intensified regulatory and investor stakeholder scrutiny, which has steadily translated into a patchwork of regulatory directives, reporting frameworks, industry standards and other globally coordinated initiatives. This, along with influential shareholder signaling and active engagement on sustainability-related concerns such as the recent case of the Dutch pension fund.

A key risk to firms is reputational damage and controversy that can eventually, or even abruptly, lead to financial harm or losses. What is at stake demands an unequivocal and transformative (or programmatic) response to the climate crisis and ensuring compliance with sustainability standards across the interconnected E, S, and G pillars.

Moreover, ESG considerations in corporate financial performance are recognized by a significant percentage of C-suite and functional leaders. This indicates that companies view ESG and Climate Risk not just as obligations but also as catalysts for informed decision-making, green investment opportunities and financial growth​.

The debates and polarization will continue as firms assess their sustainability approaches as part of their wider business strategies, including those related to existing financial risk management practices. ESG is ultimately a complex and multi-dimensional concept. This complexity, amid inherent policy and climatological uncertainties over short-, medium-, and long-term planning horizons, provides fertile ground for advanced technology and simulation analytics to explore multiple scenarios and deliver actionable, forward-looking insights toward firms’ ESG and climate risk-related strategies.

At SS&C Algorithmics, we’ve been working with our community of clients, partners and industry experts to develop leading ESG and climate risks solutions leveraging state-of-the-art data and models, integrated within a high-performance risk simulation environment.



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