Every seat was filled in the auditorium where Southeast Practice Leader, Climate Change and Sustainability Services, at Ernst & Young Chris Hagler (MSM 1996) addressed Georgia Tech students, faculty, and industry partners at Scheller College of Business on March 4, 2019. Hosted by the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (“Center”), Hagler discussed investor perspectives on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and how companies are responding.
“Each year, ESG issues become more and more important to investors, and their interests are becoming more specific,” Hagler said during her talk.
Hagler revealed a spike between 2017 and 2018 in investor focus on several ESG issues including human rights, governance, and — growing from 8% to 48% — climate change. In fact, she shared that some investors consider these “material issues,” are increasingly influencing investor portfolio decisions.
Paxton Stephens, an undergraduate student studying Business Operations at Scheller College, said she used similar evaluations when choosing an employer. “Hagler inspired me to continue pursuing these values throughout my career, and to actively make a difference by investing in companies that manage ESG well.” Stephens will join Accenture as a consulting analyst this May after graduation.
Hagler’s talk quickly became interactive as students, faculty, and professionals shared experiences and asked questions varying from ‘How do we compare ESG impact from organization to organization?’ and ‘Is gathering this data changing corporate behavior and decision making?’
“Thoughtful companies are asking ‘what is driving value?’ We need purpose-driven leadership within an organization to uncover that answer,” she said.
Scheller College MBA and College of Engineering Ph.D. dual-degree student Victoria Dean hopes to drive change within an organization by making a business case for issues she’s passionate about. “Most of the roles and value metrics regarding social and environmental impact did not exist just five to 10 years ago,” said Dean. “Hagler inspired me to take creativity and initiative to arrive at my ‘dream’ job.”
For organizations looking to add value through ESG integration, Hagler recommended they begin in risk management as a foundation touching nearly every part of the organization.
In response to a question about the impact her practice is having, Hagler shared “If there’s one practice that builds a better working world, we feel like we do it every day.”
More about Chris Hagler:
Hagler is an Advisory Board member of the Center at Scheller College of Business. After graduating from Georgia Tech with an MSM, Hagler worked with large private companies and Fortune 500 companies on issues ranging from strategy and goal setting to risk assessment and stakeholder engagement. Hagler specializes in establishing strategies and efficiency gains through processes and systems. At EY US, she leads Climate Change and Sustainability Services in the Southeast and is the practice lead for the consumer products sector.