A recent survey of top decision-makers by Crowell & Moring finds that nearly 80% of responding companies have identified and adopted environmental performance goals beyond what regulations require. Fewer than half of those surveyed measure their company’s performance against those goals—and in some cases are experiencing challenges implementing them.

The survey of 225 respondents, including in-house counsel and compliance, ESG, and sustainability professionals, is detailed in a new report, “ESG Survey: Environmental Performance and the Stakes for Your Business.”

The report finds that 44% of respondents say their organizations are measuring their carbon footprint, and 13% are measuring their environmental impact on ethnically and racially diverse communities on an ongoing basis. Both are likely to be key areas of focus of the current U.S. administration’s regulatory and enforcement activities.

The potential gap between setting environmental performance goals and measuring progress against them may not only hinder a company’s efforts, but can expose a company to increased risks from a rising tide of regulatory enforcement and litigation from advocacy groups, consumers, and investors. And given the intensifying competitive pressure to advance effective ESG programs, such a gap may also cause companies to fall behind their industry peers.

Other top findings in the report include:

  • In-house lawyers less bullish: Nearly 90% of ESG and sustainability professionals surveyed said their organizations have identified and adopted environmental performance goals beyond required compliance, compared to 49% of in-house counsel.
  • Customers drive change: Half of the survey respondents said that brand image and reputation among customers are driving their companies to adopt environmental goals.
  • Companies are talking: From advertisements to PR, companies are sharing environmental performance data beyond required disclosures, but in-house legal departments may not always be aware of it.
  • A majority of companies do not assess their carbon footprint: Among respondents, 56% said their companies do not measure their carbon footprint. Of those that do, less than half measure Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect and often emerge from suppliers.
  • Measurement questions persist: Less than half of respondents say their companies are measuring in key areas, such as product recycling, water use, and electronic waste.
  • Leadership on board: Most respondents (82%) feel their boards of directors are adequately focused on the environment.

Find the full report at Crowell & Moring’s ESG Resource Center. And register for the webinar “ESG Survey: Environmental Performance and the Stakes for Your Business,” to be held December 9 at 12:30 pm ET.

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Photo of Preston Pugh Preston Pugh

Preston Pugh helps companies, board committees and large organizations conduct internal investigations and respond to government investigations, often stemming from high stakes whistleblower complaints. He is a partner at Crowell & Moring and co-leads its False Claims Act Practice. For more than 20…

Preston Pugh helps companies, board committees and large organizations conduct internal investigations and respond to government investigations, often stemming from high stakes whistleblower complaints. He is a partner at Crowell & Moring and co-leads its False Claims Act Practice. For more than 20 years, he has helped clients navigate many different types of crises—including commercial and government contract fraud investigations; C-suite corporate ethics concerns; whistleblower retaliation claims; broad-based harassment and discrimination complaints; investigations by Congress; and related litigation. He has been recognized by the Legal 500 for his work in investigations.

Photo of Tom Lorenzen Tom Lorenzen

Tom Lorenzen is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. He is the co-chair of the firm’s Environment & Natural Resources Group and a leader of its Appellate Group. He is also a member of the firm’s Litigation, Government Affairs, and…

Tom Lorenzen is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. He is the co-chair of the firm’s Environment & Natural Resources Group and a leader of its Appellate Group. He is also a member of the firm’s Litigation, Government Affairs, and Administrative Law & Regulatory groups. Tom works with clients seeking to successfully navigate the federal environmental rulemaking process. He is ranked by Chambers and Partners as one of just five Band 1 U.S. practitioners in the field of climate change law.

Photo of Ellie Dawson Ellie Dawson

Elizabeth (Ellie) B. Dawson is a counsel in the Environment & Natural Resources Group in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office and a leader of the firm’s global ESG Advisory Team. She advocates for her clients’ interests in everything from agency rulemaking petitions…

Elizabeth (Ellie) B. Dawson is a counsel in the Environment & Natural Resources Group in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office and a leader of the firm’s global ESG Advisory Team. She advocates for her clients’ interests in everything from agency rulemaking petitions under the Clean Air Act to Superfund liability and allocation disputes, everywhere from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to the Western District of Washington.