What Is An ESG Score? And How To Calculate It?

by | Jul 10, 2023 | ESG

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In recent years, people have become increasingly interested in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) scores. An ESG score calculation can assist investors and other interested parties in evaluating how organizations perform in areas such as environment and social responsibility. Investors can then apply that information to determine which organizations are worth monitoring, while non-investors could use it to decide which businesses most closely correspond with their values.

What is an ESG Score?

An ESG score provides a fair assessment or evaluation of the performance of a particular firm, fund, or security in terms of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) concerns. Specific evaluation criteria differ amongst rating platforms that award ESG scores, but they all fall under at least one E, S, or G group.


ESG grading methods are usually industry-specific or industry-agnostic. Industry-specific scoring systems evaluate issues determined to be important to the industry. Industry-agnostic ESG scores are more likely to include widely accepted relevant variables across sectors, such as climate change, inclusion, equity, diversity, and human rights. ESG grading platforms assign a weighting to each measurement criterion and then compare an organization’s performance to each standard. The final ESG score of an organization is typically the sum of the criteria scores plus the measure’s weightings.

How Do ESG Scores Work?

Public firms’ Management groups are increasingly expected (by stock exchanges and regulatory authorities) to include ESG disclosure in their quarterly and yearly reports. They will choose a reporting framework to provide clear and meaningful metrics in a standardized way. The Global Reporting Institute (GRI), the Principles of Responsibility for Responsible Investments (PRI), and the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) are three common frameworks. Greenwashing occurs when firm management teams present ESG information without using an acceptable methodology.

Stakeholders and rating organizations interested in establishing ESG ratings will analyze these businesses or fund disclosures, follow up with management interviews, compare results and metrics with other companies in the sector, and present the company with an ESG score. ESG raters assist in bridging the gap between an organization’s disclosure and the general public’s assessment of its ESG behaviors and performance. Financial analysts often utilize scores to help them make capital allocation decisions.

Who Determines Performance and Assigns ESG Scores?

These scoring systems may come from banking and investment corporations, consultancy firms, standard-setting bodies, non-governmental organizations, or government agencies. However, there are two basic types of raters who generate ESG scores: external stakeholders and internal stakeholders.

1. External Stakeholders/Rating Platforms

External stakeholders read company filings, analyze publicly accessible information, and do primary research on the organization’s sustainability activities with company management. Here are several examples:

  • ISS (or Institutional Shareholder Services) constitutes one of the world’s most extensive institutional investor advisory services, with an array of scoring systems, such as issue-specific scores (such as its “Carbon Risk Rating” or “Water Risk Rating“), category-specific measures (such as its “Governance Score“), and an overall “Corporate Rating.”
  • The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is a non-governmental organization that produces ESG evaluations, notably those related to environmental factors. CDP is noted for its rigor in doing primary research by contacting issuers rather than relying on voluntary disclosures.
  • Financial services firms that measure and offer ESG ratings for the general population include MSCI, Sustainability Analysis, and S&P TruCost.

2. Stakeholders From Within The Organization

Internal ESG scores, in the form of ESG scorecards, are additionally utilized to assess organizational performance. In reality, an increasing number of organizations are using by-house evaluation methods to track and report individual performance. Internal ratings are used for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Performance comparison across corporate units or geographic markets.
  • Actual results are measured against issues impacting firm stakeholders (consumers, suppliers, or staff).
  • Conducting horizontal evaluations to track performance changes over time.

What Is the Importance of an ESG Score?

High ESG scores are a shifting target because they are frequently influenced by the achievements of other industry participants, macroeconomic conditions, and changes to the scoring platform’s internal procedures. Scores are likewise challenging to evaluate in “absolute” terms. All else being equal, an organization that consistently earns high ESG rankings across a range of rating platforms is likely to outperform its peers. Understanding the larger context of the event and which data points are being evaluated to arrive at a specific score is required to get meaningful information from an individual ESG score.

What are the Market Applications of ESG Scores?

ESG scoring systems are developed for various use cases and stakeholders (depending on their respective demands); some are designed to assist capital allocation decisions (such as investments or credit risk assessment), while others may help manage human resources and staffing decisions.

For example, CDP (The Carbon Disclosure Project) is an NGO score system for company performance on various environmental concerns such as carbon emissions, climate change, water, and forestry. CDP is popular among investors because asset managers can employ positive or negative screenings to find top (or bottom) performers on environmental concerns.

Just Capital focuses on customers’ non-governmental organization (NGO) rating system that evaluates business performance on stakeholder problems, such as whether an organization creates value for its workers, vendors, and local communities. When looking for an organization to buy from (or work for), customers or prospective employees may use Just Capital.

Also Read: What Is ESG Investing?

What is a Good ESG Score?

An ESG score, which goes from 0 to 100, enables shareholders to contrast the success of a business to that of other companies in the same industry and businesses from different sectors. A rating of less than 50 indicates poor performance, while an overall rating of more than 70 indicates excellent performance. Furthermore, ratings might be classified as excellent, decent, mediocre, or poor:

  • A company with an exceptional ESG score will have few to no internal or outside difficulties and will follow best practices in all ESG areas.
  • A company with a high ESG score follows best practices in all ESG areas and has no negative environmental or social impacts.
  • The average ESG score of a company indicates if it is on track to meet ESG requirements or is working towards important ESG goals.
  • A low grade indicates that no best practices are being implemented, implying that the company is harming the environment and mistreating its employees.

How Can You Raise Your ESG Score?

ESG-driven companies benefit from several benefits and are more inclined to understand their operations. This enables them to minimize ESG risks and opportunities, allowing them to advance and succeed. These firms attract investors who want to ensure their investments are financially (and socially) sound. ESG management may be challenging, but there are at least five ways to improve ESG ratings in order to draw in reliable investors.

1. Integrate ESG into Your Company’s Culture

ESG is a lot more than a list of tasks to do. It must be thoroughly embedded in your company’s culture and serve as a basis for all your decisions and actions. Sincere initiatives focused on ethical behavior, preservation of the environment, and social awareness bring your firm closer to actual social change. As a consequence of this, your ESG rating will improve.

2. Conduct a Materiality Analysis

Identifying what non-monetary information is essential and what must be revealed may be challenging. A materiality evaluation can help you identify the ESG concerns that are most important to your firm and its investors. Investors scrutinize the areas; you may direct your energies and change your approach. This assessment may assist in better integrating and streamlining business procedures and provide more exact and intelligible data. Your ESG rating may improve as a result of all of this.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Ratings

Investors and other stakeholders frequently scrutinize your ESG scores. As a result, when making decisions, you must constantly keep your ESG grading criteria in mind. To increase your ESG rating, you must first identify where you are effective and what you need to improve. Engage with rating agency reports frequently. You can enhance your efforts to improve your ESG rating and provide the most critical information to your investors by performing regular, extensive evaluations.

4. Follow Global Frameworks

International standards give investors information about investments. Investors routinely use many frameworks when deciding what investments to make, even though there has yet to be a consensus on ESG information standards. Consider the following:

These international recommendations serve as a blueprint for businesses wishing to implement an ESG strategy that will improve their ratings & win over investors.

5. Submit Investment-Grade Data

When considering investment opportunities, investors look for reliable, precise, comparable, and clear ESG information. When acquiring ESG data, use the following principles to produce investment-grade data:

  • Accuracy: Implement rigorous data collection strategies to ensure accuracy.
  • Limitations: Data should contain the current fiscal year and firm ownership model.
  • Consistency: To ensure comparability, employ accepted worldwide standards.
  • Data Submission: Please supply raw and normalized data when submitting data.
  • Timeliness: Information must be submitted according to the annual reporting schedule.
  • External validation: Having a third party evaluate your data.
  • Balance: Include both positive and negative data in your presentation.

If you keep these aspects forefront while presenting ESG data, you can offer the information needed for a solid ESG rating.


An ESG score assesses an organization’s performance on multiple sustainability parameters (connected to social, environmental, or governance issues). Rating platforms establish ESG ratings by evaluating corporate disclosures, conducting management interviews, and reviewing publicly accessible data about an organization to offer a neutral rating of the organization’s performance. Scores are utilized differently by various stakeholders (investors versus employees), and rating platforms have grown to accommodate this diversity of use cases.

Also Read: ESG Fundamentals & Disclosure


Q1. What is ESG Rating?

An ESG rating, also known as an ESG score, assesses a company’s performance regarding its environmental, social, and governance responsibilities. These duties may be significant to the corporation or essential to the stakeholders of the business for non-financial reasons. Firm ESG scores are available so that either the organization or external entities can analyze and comprehend how well the firm is operating.

Q2. Who can see your ESG Scores?

It varies depending on the agency. Many ESG reports and rankings are available to the public. Dow Jones publishes regional and global indices annually on numerous top-performing corporations. On the other hand, companies such as Bloomberg and RepRisk produce reports, especially for investors who wish to investigate an organization’s ESG score before investing.

Q3. Why invest in a company with a high ESG rating?

Organizations with excellent sustainability scores are better at recognizing upcoming risks and opportunities, are more focused on long-term wealth generation, and are better at over-time strategic thinking. In short, if a company gets a high ESG rating, it will likely prioritize long-term sustainability.



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