Today marks Mergers & Acquisitions’ fifth and final event of the year: PE Innovators in ESG Speak. As we look back on 2021, it’s clear that this is the “Year of ESG” for the private equity industry. That’s why we launched the inaugural PE Innovators in ESG list, in which we recognized 18 entities that are leading the way. At our event, we’re speaking with dozens of limited partners and general partners, who are sharing their insights on integrating ESG goals into investment strategies.

Earlier in the year, we heard a lot of concern about how difficult it can be to measure ESG and how everybody seemed to be using different metrics in reporting. More recently we’ve seen several initiatives that promise to bring more accountability in metrics and more consistency in standard reporting in the years ahead. We’ve also seen private equity firms begin to put their money where their mouths are, with many of them elevating the role of ESG within their organizations and paying top dollar to hire and promote top talent for ESG positions.

All of this activity is ongoing. Just this morning, for example, KKR announced a new Sustainability Expert Advisory Council, comprised of six independent experts across key ESG issues, including climate; diversity, equity, and inclusion; labor and workforce; governance and transparency; and data responsibility.

In the opening panel, which I moderated, we addressed How LPs are Demanding ESG Strategies from Their GPs. Panelists included: Geeta Kapadia, Associate Treasurer and Director of Investments, Yale New Haven Health; Eric Newman, Treasurer and Pension Plan Trustee, City of Stamford; and Paul Yett, Managing Director & Director of ESG & Sustainability, Hamilton Lane. If you miss any of the sessions live, check this week and next, as we post videos from the event.

It is still very early days for ESG, and we expect to see the themes we’re talking about today play out over the next several years.

Mary Kathleen Flynn