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Corporate, health-care plans slow on ESG uptake, study finds

Forty-one percent of corporate and health-care sector retirement plans have adopted ESG investing or are interested in pursuing it, said a report released Monday by investment consulting firm NEPC.

The survey — which covered 69 plan sponsors with oversight of 119 defined benefit and defined contribution plans — found that only 12% of the plans surveyed have adopted environmental, social and governance investing, although another 29% said they are interested in potentially pursuing ESG investing. The remaining 59% of respondents said they have not adopted ESG investing.

Mostly it was the corporate plans that said they were not interested in ESG investing; among those, there was a roughly even split between DB and DC plans.

Among the 29% of plans that haven't adopted ESG but are interested in pursuing it, 32% said they would like to see more data on the impact of ESG investing on performance, 37% said more education is needed, and more than 15% said clearer guidance from the Department of Labor is necessary before making ESG-based investments.

Among those indicating they had no interest in ESG, 38% said they only focus on financial factors and 27% said more data is needed on the impact on performance.