ESG factors - environmental, social, governanceAt William Blair Investment Management, environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors are among many considerations that inform our investment decisions—inextricably linked with our fundamental assessment of the quality of corporate management and sustainable value creation potential.

For all of William Blair's fundamental equity and fixed-income strategies, ESG factors are inextricably linked with our fundamental assessment of company management and the sustainability of competitive strengths.

Our research analysts provide a qualitative summary of what they view as each company's relevant ESG-related risk exposures and opportunities. These issues are documented within our company recommendation reports and discussed by the analysts and portfolio managers during our regular team meetings.

ESG insights are primarily informed by proprietary research, including company meetings and data aggregation from multiple internal and external resources. Our assessment of potential ESG risks and opportunities for different industries and companies is supported by a proprietary materiality framework that was developed internally by the investment teams, with input from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and sustainable investment research providers.

In addition to our proprietary ESG research, third-party ESG company ratings are systematically incorporated into our research reports to provide additional context. These ratings are discussed as part of the original buy recommendation, depending on data availability and our assessment of materiality with respect to the investment thesis. William Blair currently utilizes ESG ratings from MSCI ESG Research and routinely monitors the research vendor landscape for additional ESG research inputs. We also continually seek expanded universe coverage and data quality improvement from our existing research providers.

From a governance perspective, our key focus is on board composition, minority shareholder treatment, management incentives, and corporate culture. Environmental areas of focus include climate change, natural resources stewardship, and pollution and waste management. Social considerations include human capital management, customer well-being, supply chain management, and community relations. The materiality of these issues varies by country, industry, and company.

  • Learn More About Our ESG Integration Philosophy
    Read about our ESG philosophy and process.
    Read our brochure
  • Learn About Our Active Ownership Policy
    Our policy explains how we take an active interest in the decisions made by the companies in which we invest.
    View active ownership policy brochure
  • PRI Signatory
    William Blair is an A+ Rated United Nations-Supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Signatory.* See our PRI Transparency Report
  • U.K Stewardship
    William Blair is a signatory to the U.K Stewardship Code
  • Japan Stewardship
    Learn about our approach to responsible ownership with regard to the guidelines set out in the Japan Stewardship Code, published by the Financial Services Agency in February 2014.
    Japan's Stewardship Code
  • Korea Stewardship
    Learn about our approach to responsible ownership with regard to the guidelines set out in the Korea Stewardship Code, published by the Korea Stewardship Code Council on December 16, 2016.
    Korea Stewardship Code
  • Read Our Paper, "ESG Investing and Portfolio Integration" 
    Interest in ESG factors is expanding at a rapid pace among institutional and retail investors around the world. In this paper, we provide an overview of the sustainable investment landscape, including investor adoption and implementation trends, as well as important sustainable investment themes from an industry perspective. We also explore the opportunities and challenges of integrating nonfinancial factors within traditional fundamental company analysis.
    Read our paper
  • Get More of Our Investing Insights
    Our thought leaders share their ESG-related insights on our blog.
    Read our related posts
  • Learn More About Our Community Engagement Efforts
    We are committed to being a long-term partner to the communities in which we live and work.
    Read about our efforts
  • Read Our Paper, "Our Journey to a Sustainable Future."
    As investors and advisors who focus on our clients' long-term success, sustainability is central to how we assess the risks and opportunities facing our clients.
    Read our paper

*Per 2020 PRI Assessment Report. William Blair Investment Management is rated A+ for equity incorporation. The median equity incorporation rating for all PRI signatories was A.