Key Differences in Sustainable Investing | Zell

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      ESG vs SRI: What Are The Key Differences?

      Last Update On 20th June 2024
      Duration: 4 Mins Read

      Sustainability has taken the trend not only in food and fashion but also in how people invest. Investors have understood the importance of environmental, social, and governance factors and thus make their investment choices accordingly. Within ESG, there are two essential factors to understand – investment and sustainable and responsible investment (SRI).

      Even though they have the same objective of investment with sustainability, they are different. Many organisations adopt ESG practices with sustainability management software to streamline their objectives. In this article, let’s look at what each is and understand ESG vs SRI in depth.

      ESG vs SRI

      A Brief History of Responsible Investing

      Responsible investing may have seen a massive trend in the last decade with the coming of thematic funds and integration of ESG; however, it is not a new concept. People believe that religious motivations have played a massive part in responsible investing. It could be the Methodist church asking not to profit at the expense of something wrong or Quakers telling them not to benefit from the slave trade.

      It was from that era that companies involved in tobacco, alcohol, or weapons were considered wrong, and thus, people were prohibited from investing in them.

      What is ESG?

      ESG means environmental, social and governance. This green industrial concept includes identifying and scoring how companies perform on these responsibility metrics for investments. Here, E refers to Environmental, which is about understanding how well a company is using natural resources and how its operations are impacting the environment.

      Social refers to how the company handles its relations with suppliers, employees, communities, and customers. At the same time, governance relates to the company’s executive pay, leadership, internal controls audits, and shareholder rights. A lot of brokerage firms have introduced investment products with ESG principles.

      What is SRI?

      An investment deemed socially responsible because of the type of business the company engages in is called socially responsible investing (SRI) or social investment. Socially conscious investing is a recurring subject in socially responsible investing. Investments in socially aware mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or individual businesses with strong social values can be made in a socially conscious manner.

      SRIs have the practice of investing in funds and companies with a track record of positively showcasing social impacts.

      What are ESG and SRI Strategies?

      Different strategies can be used to achieve sustainable investing objectives. The portfolio managers and investors analyse the ESG data to determine the best sustainability practices. Those are further integrated into investment decisions while thinking about financial risks. These investors believe that long-term personal financial performance is enhanced by efficient ESG management, which promotes resilience, innovation, and risk mitigation.

      On the other hand, SRI investors build portfolios that align with specific values-based goals by using positive selection criteria or negative screening. Sustainable and Responsible Investors (SRIs) seek to make money while positively impacting society.

      ESG, SRI, and Impact Investing: What’s the Difference?

      Contrary to widespread assumption, sustainable investment can produce financially competitive results using ESG and SRI methodologies. There is a strong correlation between ESG practices and long-term financial goals. Businesses with ESG management showcase innovation, resilience, and risk mitigation, thus generating more returns.

      SRI, on the other hand, gives returns while promoting positive social and environmental outcomes. SRI companies also enjoy better market share and customer loyalty due to customer favorability. Therefore, investing in businesses aligned with personal contributions to society and the environment will often have better results.

      ESG Risks and Governance Risks

      When considering ESG investment, one should also remember the potential risks from regulatory non-compliance, environmental incidents, and reputation damage due to social controversies. These risks should be factored in when identifying companies with intense practices and mitigating any possible financial setbacks.

      Moreover, corporate governance has a significant impact on investing. Companies that promote sustainability and operate in the best interests of all stakeholders are more likely to have robust governance frameworks, transparent reporting, and efficient board supervision. ESG investors assess firms’ governance policies to ensure they align with sustainability objectives and reduce the possibility of unethical conduct or governance errors.

      SRI vs ESG: Which One Should You Use?

      Now that you have understood the difference between ESG vs SRI, it is time to choose the best option for your portfolio. If you are morally drawn towards environmental and social investment factors and how they impact the bottom line, ESG suits you. On the other hand, if you are an activist who does not mind leaving a particular investment because it does not align with your beliefs, you should go for SRI.


      ESG and SRI have different investment options with the more extensive umbrella of sustainable investment. ESG investment focuses on a company’s environment, social, and governance factors in investment decisions. SRI, on the other side, focuses on aligning investments with a particular ethical criteria or value.

      However, these strategies have shown positive financial results while positively impacting the world. Therefore, investors need to understand the difference between the two before choosing the right option, as sustainability is becoming the prime focus in investment these days.


      What is the difference between ESG and sustainable investment?

      The company’s performance in particular areas, such as CEO compensation, diversity and inclusion, and carbon emissions, is assessed using ESG measures. However, sustainability encompasses various subjects, including community development, stakeholder involvement, and supply chain management.

      What is the difference between ESG and SRI funds?

      ESG focuses on how environmental, social, and corporate governance concerns affect an investment’s market performance. SRI considers the consequences of investments on the environment and society.

      What is the relationship between SRI and ESG?

      ESG investing incorporates a company’s environmental, social, and governance concerns into investment choices. SRI goes above and beyond ESG investing by matching investments with specific ethical standards or ideals. Both approaches have proven to have the ability to make money while changing the world for the better.

      What is better than ESG?

      Impact investing is a more targeted and thoughtful approach to finding investments with a particular social or environmental benefit. ESG investment, on the other hand, takes into account both conventional financial measures and a company’s ESG aspects.


      Partham Barot is an ACCA-certified professional. showcasing his expertise in finance and accountancy. he’s revolutionising education by focusing on practical, real-world skills. Partham’s achievements underscore his commitment to elevating educational standards and empowering the next generation of professionals.

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