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Dave Armon headshot

Corporate ESG Storytelling Largely Focused on the 'E' During 2021

By Dave Armon

According to a recent study of ESG communications from 3BL Media, companies were far more communicative on environmental topics in 2021, ahead of stories related to philanthropy and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion).

Of the more than 8,000 reports and stories on ESG (environmental, social and governance) topics that 3BL Media distributed last year, environmental topics generated the most volume and audience interest, with such engagement rising 68 percent over 2020.

As the public awaits what becomes of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed rule on mandatory climate disclosure for publicly traded companies, there has been a sharp increase in the number of reports, articles, videos, press releases and other content discussing action companies have taken on carbon emissions, water, waste and the environment.

In the wake of the climate-related disasters that made headlines last year, the news surrounding the most recent IPCC report and the run-up to the COP26 talks in Glasgow, it is clear that stakeholders — especially investors — are demanding ESG performance and transparency. As a result, 3BL Media’s data is witnessing more companies move beyond annual sustainability reporting to more frequent communications.

The second most viewed category at 3BL Media in 2021, philanthropy and cause initiatives, declined 29 percent in audience engagement from its 2020 spike when both B2B and B2C brands were pledging their support in the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Corporate content on the topics related to DEI generated the third highest volume in 2021, with engagement rising 35 percent from 2020. This category grew in 2020 amidst the nationwide racial justice protests, and as companies continued to communicate about DEI in 2021, the results showed that readers found related announcements and stories even more relevant.

In addition, 3BL Media found a 13 percent increase in readership for reports, a category that encompasses all forms of corporate responsibility, sustainability, ESG or integrated reports. Announcements about awards, ratings and rankings were up 9 percent.

While the number of corporate stories about volunteering and community involvement declined due to COVID-19 limitations, engagement was up 8 percent.

3BL Media’s data analysis included 8,200 media releases from corporate and nonprofit clients that subscribed to the 3BL Professional ESG content distribution and analysis platform in 2021.

Image credit: Margot Richard via Unsplash

Dave Armon headshot

Dave Armon is the Chief Executive Officer of 3BL Media, which produces the 3BL Forum and ranks the 100 Best Corporate Citizens. A former journalist, Dave spent 20 years in management at PR Newswire, where he was president and COO.  

Read more stories by Dave Armon