Certainty Blog

ESG Metrics: A Guide to Sustainable Decision Making

ESG metrics

The world of business is constantly evolving, and in recent years, there has been a shift toward sustainability and responsible investing. Companies are recognizing that their operations have an impact on the environment, society, and governance, and are taking steps to ensure that they are conducting their business in a more sustainable manner. As a result, more and more companies are turning to ESG metrics to measure their sustainability performance, identify risks, and make better decisions. But with so many metrics out there, are you tracking the right ones?

What are ESG Metrics?

ESG metrics are a set of indicators used to measure a company’s Environment, Social, and Governance performance. The ‘E’ part of ESG measures a company’s impact on the environment, including emissions, energy consumption, waste management, and biodiversity. The ‘S’ part of ESG measures a company’s impact on society, including human rights, employee health, and product safety. The ‘G’ aspect measures a company’s governance metrics, including board diversity, executive compensation, and business ethics.

Examples of ESG Metrics

ESG metrics can be broken down into three main categories: Environmental, Social, and Governance. Here are some examples for each category:


  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Carbon footprint
  • Energy consumption
  • Water usage
  • Waste management
  • Biodiversity
  • Product lifecycle analysis
  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy


  • Human rights
  • Employee health and safety
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Supply chain labor standards
  • Product safety
  • Community engagement
  • Customer privacy and data security
  • Philanthropy and charitable giving


  • Board diversity and structure
  • Executive compensation
  • Anti-corruption policies
  • Business ethics
  • Risk management
  • Shareholder rights
  • Political contributions and lobbying
  • Audit and financial reporting
  • Corporate governance metrics

It’s important to note that these are just a few examples, and the specific KPIs that a company may choose to track will depend on its industry, size, and sustainability goals.

Why These Metrics Matter

ESG Metrics are important for businesses for several reasons. Firstly, measuring and tracking ESG performance can help companies to identify and mitigate potential risks, such as environmental and social impacts, that could affect their long-term sustainability and financial performance. By proactively addressing ESG issues, companies can avoid reputational damage, legal and regulatory fines, and supply chain disruptions, which can negatively impact their financial performance.

These metrics also help businesses build trust and credibility with their stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees, and regulators. By reporting on ESG performance, companies can demonstrate their commitment to responsible business practices, social and environmental stewardship, and sustainable growth, which can help to attract and retain investors, customers, and employees who value ESG performance.

ESG Metrics are becoming increasingly important for reporting, compliance, and regulation. Many investors and regulators are now requiring companies to report on their ESG performance, using internationally recognized ESG reporting standards and frameworks, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). By tracking and reporting on these metrics, companies can meet the reporting requirements of these frameworks, which can improve their transparency, accountability, and credibility with stakeholders.

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Utilizing these metrics also helps companies to stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on new opportunities. By tracking emerging ESG trends, such as renewable energy, carbon footprint reduction, and sustainable supply chain management, companies can proactively develop new products, services, and business models that meet changing consumer and market demands. This can give them a competitive advantage and help them to create long-term value for their stakeholders

How to Calculate ESG Metrics

ESG metrics are calculated using a variety of methods, including data analysis, audits, and reporting standards. Data can be collected from different sources, including internal company data, public datasets, and third-party providers. ESG scores are often calculated by aggregating and weighing different ESG metrics. For example, a company’s score may be calculated based on its carbon emissions, board diversity, and social responsibility metrics.

Selecting the Right Metrics

There are many different ESG metrics that companies can track, and the ones that are most relevant to your needs will depend on the company’s industry, size, and specific sustainability risks and opportunities.

However, there are several reporting frameworks that can help guide companies in their ESG reporting and ultimately their metric selection. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) are just a few of the frameworks that have specific requirements for reporting ESG metrics. By selecting the right reporting framework, companies can ensure that they are tracking the right metrics to meet their reporting requirements.

How to leverage your ESG Metrics

Leveraging ESG metrics is essential for maximizing their impact. By using KPIs specific to ESG to identify risks and opportunities, companies can improve their sustainability performance and enhance their social responsibility. Companies can also use their sustainability metrics to benchmark their performance against industry standards and competitors, and to communicate their sustainability performance to stakeholders. Using a checklist such as Certainty Software’s ESG Checklist can help companies turn their ESG KPIs into reportable and actionable information.

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