Explaining ESG investing and the "woke capitalism" backlash : Planet Money "ESG" investing – Environmental, Social, Governance – has attracted a lot of attention from investors, and from Republican politicians who call it "woke investing." On today's show, what the fight over ESG reveals about the potential and limitations of sustainable investing.

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Two Indicators: The fight over ESG investing

Two Indicators: The fight over ESG investing

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images
PRENZLAU, GERMANY - JUNE 02: Wind turbines spin behind a solar energy park on June 02, 2022 near Prenzlau, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Fifteen years ago, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing was in its Wild West era. Few companies tracked or released data on the social or environmental impact of their operations, or even bothered to keep track in the first place.

But since then, ESG investing has become the hot topic in the financial industry. By making investment choices that emphasize social and environmental responsibility alongside profits, money managers claim to put their morals on the same level as their bottom lines.

Today on the show, we present The Indicator's two-part series on ESG. We talk to a former sustainable investing officer at BlackRock about his journey into the heart of ESG, and the tough questions he encountered along the way. Then, we hear from two voices on the other side of the debate, who try to grapple with – and maybe even answer – those tough questions.

ESG may not be perfect, but does its potential value outweigh its imperfections?

This episode was produced by Sam Yellowhorse Kesler, Corey Bridges, and Andrea Gutierrez, with engineering by Robert Rodriguez. Sierra Juarez and Dylan Sloan checked the facts. Viet Le is our senior producer. Additional editing today by Jess Jiang and Keith Romer. Kate Concannon edits The Indicator.

Music: "Rubbery Bounce," "Cool Summer Groove" and "Rub A Dub."

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