ESG keywords on the rise in corporate event transcripts

Aug 10, 2021
Environmental phrases gain in popularity, according to data by Sentieo

As the importance of ESG continues to grow for investors, issuers are ramping up their inclusion of certain key ESG words and phrases, according to analysis of corporate event transcripts by Sentieo.

In June of this year, there were 1,200 transcripts with mentions of ESG during conference calls – the largest number on record. This was a 216.6 percent increase on same month in 2020, when ESG appeared in 379 transcripts. The lowest number of transcripts with mentions of ESG so far this year was in January (201 transcripts), though this is still a big increase on the 70 conference call transcripts in January 2020.

‘ESG topics have moved front and center in recent years as both government mandates and fund flows have increased the importance of ESG,’ says Nick Mazing, head of research at Sentieo.

Discussion of environmental issues

‘Sustainability’ is a word that has been tracked by the firm since 2002 but reached its highest level of mentions in June 2020, when the word appeared more than 1,400 times in transcripts.

The use of the word ‘emissions’ has also seen a sharp increase in recent years. Between 2002 and 2018, there wasn’t a single month where the word was used more than 200 times in event transcripts. But that has changed notably in recent years, culminating in an all-time high of 830 mentions in transcripts in June 2021.

The phrase ‘climate change' has been around for a long time and is generally the most popular phrase used by scientists, the media and climate activists. Data shows ‘climate change’ being mentioned every month since Sentieo began compiling the data in 2002. The highest figure recorded was in June 2021, where it showed up in 334 transcripts.

However, as the sense of urgency surrounding our climate – perhaps prompted by recent wildfires, floods and extreme weather – has increased, the phrase ‘climate crisis’ has started to see an uptick. Unlike ‘climate change’, which has been widely used for years, ‘climate crisis’ was only mentioned in eight transcripts up to 2019. So far this year, the term ‘climate crisis’ has been mentioned in conference calls every month, peaking in June when it appeared in 24 transcripts.

‘Climate crisis is relatively new language – you can see that it practically did not exist for most of the last 10 years in transcripts,’ Mazing says. ‘So, I’d say that the fact that it is starting to appear is more interesting, rather than the fact that climate change is way more frequent.’

Bumps in the road for racial mentions

Data shows the words ‘diverse’ or ‘diversity’ have gradually climbed since 2005, passing one thousand mark in June 2020 (1,100 transcripts). A year later, in June 2021, these words reached a new high by appearing in 1,500 transcripts.

From 2002 until June 2019, the word ‘gender’ was used less than 100 times per month. Since June 2019, ‘gender’ saw a steady upwards growth and hit its highest level in June 2021, at 233 mentions.

Additionally, ‘women’ as a term saw steady coverage on conference calls from 2002 to 2017 before plateauing somewhat. However, ‘women’ saw the highest level of mentions in June 2021, appearing in 425 transcripts.

Phases such as ‘racism’ or ‘racial’ have declined in mentions since their record levels in the second half of 2020. In August 2020, there were 190 transcripts where these words were mentioned, following the protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. But those levels have dropped off since: June 2021 brought the highest number of transcripts since then, at 124.

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