Busting Myths about the ‘S’ Dimension in ESG: Integrating Social Performance

Josh Koenig May 31, 2021

The social aspect of ESG, or the ‘S’ dimension, is becoming increasingly important to investors and the general public. This trend has only been accelerated by the recent global spotlight on racial injustices, as well as the social inequities that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to a recent study from the Harvard Kennedy School, the ‘S’ dimension remains “seriously under-conceptualized…” In addition, many myths exist about what the ‘S’ dimension is and how to measure it.

This session will discuss four myths about the ‘S’ dimension: (1) that Social indicators are less financially material than environmental indicators; (2) that Social indicators are extremely complex, making it difficult to know how and where to start; (3) that Social indicators are too hard to measure and that there is no reliable and comparable data, and; (4) that qualitative surveys or questionnaires are the only means for tackling social issues and for analyzing social aspects.

Following this discussion, the panel will discuss concrete resources for investors interested in better working with the ‘S’ dimension, including providing expert summaries of recent leading white papers on the topic, including the recent white paper ‘Amplifying the “S” in ESG: Investor Myth Buster,’ from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Refinitiv, International Sustainable Finance Centre, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, White & Case, Eco-Age, The Mekong Club and PRI (as an observer participant).



Meta Themes

  • Equity & Inclusion

  • Impact Investing

  • Sustainable Development


ESGs; Social Justice; Racial Equity; Gender Lens; Impact Investing; Labor Rights

Purpose and Desired Outcome

To bust the myths about the ‘S’ dimension in ESG, demonstrating that it is both possible and necessary to integrate social performance in investment analysis, and to leave attendees with concrete tools to better approach the ‘S’ dimension.


  • Allocators (Family Offices, HNW Individuals, Foundations)

  • Asset Managers

  • Intermediaries (Financial Advisers, Investment Bankers)

  • Corporate & SME

  • Academia


  • NameGiulia Corinaldi
  • TitleDirector, Inclusive Economies
  • OrganizationThomson Reuters Foundation
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameTBD
  • TitleWorking Group Member
  • OrganizationRefinitiv, International Sustainable Finance Centre (ISFC), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, White & Case, Eco-Age, The Mekong Club
  • StatusInvited
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