White PaperAmplifying the "S" in ESG: Investor Myth Buster

The Thomson Reuters Foundation has facilitated a new partnership, bringing together civil society, experts, and the private sector to emphasise the importance of the ‘social’ criteria within Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing.

2021 REPORTAmplifying the S in ESG: Investor Myth Buster

The Thomson Reuters Foundation has facilitated a new partnership, bringing together civil society, experts, and the private sector to emphasise the importance of the ‘social’ criteria within Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing.


Investors are under increased pressure to consider the “S” (social) performance component in their investments. Yet, in the world of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, the integration of social performance assessment has seen insufficient progress.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation has brought together civil society, experts and the private sector to form an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Working Group, with the aim of emphasising the importance of the ‘social’ criteria within ESG investing.

The Group, comprising Refinitiv, International Sustainable Finance Centre (ISFC), White & Case, Eco-Age, The Mekong Club, and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, (as observer participants), believe in amplifying the work around social performance as a key consideration for investors, beginning with the publication of this white paper, and agree that there is a need for broader and more urgent action globally.

If you would like to find out more, keep informed or get involved in this work, please contact swhitepaper@thomsonreuters.com.



ESG investing is plagued by many challenges and misperceptions about why social issues – such as a company’s labour practices or community relations – matter and how or whether they can be integrated into investment analysis.

For all investors, it is important to proactively address these questions because, as the Working Group highlights, social issues can create key risks; they are salient and will be increasingly relevant. Debunking myths around the availability of data on “S” issues and their importance can also help identify more resilient and profitable investment opportunities.

Together, the Group produced a white paper: “Amplifying the “S” in ESG: Investor Myth Buster”, to help further the momentum for both improving an understanding of the “S” issues and a wider adoption of social criteria in investment strategies.

In April 2022, White & Case undertook a comprehensive update of the white paper’s Annex II, Global Regulatory and Legislative Frameworks of Social Indicators. This updated Annex reflects the most recent developments in the countries that were reviewed. You can view the updated Annex by clicking the button below.


Event Hosted By Date
Time Link


Event Hosted By Date
GO ESG ASEAN 2021 Virtual Summit UN Global Compact Network Malaysia 24/11/21-25/11/21
Leveraging ESG momentum for social good - Trust Conference 2021 Thomson Reuters Foundation 17/11/21 Recording
Busting Myths about the ‘S’ Dimension in ESG: What's Needed for Broad and Impactful Integration Reuters Events 04/11/21 Recording
Powering you ESG Strategy Through Sourcing & Procurement SOCAP 19/10/21
Embedding ESG Into Your Business UN Global Compact Network UK 21/7/21 Recording
Amplifying the S in ESG: Investor Myth Buster UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) 7/7/21 Recording
The S in ESG: Best practices and way forward? Thomson Reuters Foundation, Frank Bold, Shift 1/7/21 Recording
Trends in Risk Analysis: Tracking Emerging Issues in ESG Thomson Reuters 23/6/21
The "S" in ESG The Mekong Club 22/6/21 Recording
Perspectives LIVE: How to amplify the "S" in ESG Refinitiv 3/6/21 Recording


The Thomson Reuters Foundation believes that economies are only inclusive when they are equitable, participatory and sustainable, and when they respect and preserve the environment around us.

Through news, media development, free legal assistance, training and convening initiatives, we combine our unique services to foster fair and sustainable economic and business models. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is committed to using its services to ensure meaningful progress is made to improve the understanding of the importance of the “S” in “ESG” investing.


The Thomson Reuters Foundation’s news team produced a ‘video explainer’ on the rise of the “S” in ESG:


“This myth-buster couldn’t be timelier and more useful exactly as the “S” in ESG has finally come to the forefront. From inequality and racial injustice to human rights and worker rights, social issues are more salient—and often material—than ever. This report should clear away the misperceptions that have held investors back from taking these issues and risks as seriously as they should.”

Bennett Freeman, Former Senior Vice President for Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments

“Many investors are finally recognizing the importance of the "S" in ESG and that they need to improve their understanding of the issues. This report is an important step forward in closing these gaps, offering helpful guidance and useful tools for implementation.”

Delilah Rothenberg, Founder & Executive Director, Predistribution Initiative

“I am pleased to have been a stakeholder participant for the ESG Working Group’s white paper: Amplifying the “S” in ESG: Investor Myth Buster. The past year has exposed once again the infrastructure and consequences of divisions across our society, and I think we can all agree that now is the time for investors across the capital spectrum to incorporate Social criteria and Social performance assessments across their portfolios. This report breaks new ground in demonstrating the importance of considering a company’s “social” performance and providing ESG minded investors with a roadmap to evolve their investments towards portfolios that foster a more just society. There is no doubt in my mind that social issues and how companies address them and engage with their employees, value chain partners and communities around them will be of increasing relevance to investors of all kinds. This white paper will significantly add to investors’ abilities to make more informed decisions about a company’s social performance.”

Patience Marime-Ball, Founder and CEO, Women of the World Endowment

“‘S’ ESG issues are more tangible and measurable than ever before. As part of our mission to drive positive change via the power of data, RepRisk is proud to join the Working Group to further illustrate the availability and efficacy of ‘S’ ESG risk metrics and their place in sustainable capital allocation.”

Dr. Philipp Aeby, CEO, RepRisk AG

“When an investor only examines a company’s financial condition, they may not discern whether that company is prepared to withstand an acute shock, like a global pandemic, or manage an evolving social risk, like community relations on issues of diversity and inclusion.  Perhaps more than ever, this last year has shown us how companies and their investors can be materially impacted by the onset of unconventional factors, or what many refer to as sustainability or ESG factors.  This clearly includes social components like customer welfare, human rights, and product quality and safety.  As such, businesses and their investors have a direct interest in ensuring that social risks and opportunities are properly identified, measured, and managed.”

Michael W. Frerichs, Office of the Illinois State Treasurer


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