INSIGHT by Callan

| Callan, a leading institutional investment consulting firm, announced the results of its eighth annual ESG Survey, noting a consistent commitment to incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision-making—with a record number of respondents considering it in the future.



The survey found 42% of institutional investors incorporate ESG factors into investment decisions, which mirrors our 2019 survey result but is nearly double the 22% result from our first survey in 2013.

Over 30% of respondents not yet incorporating ESG factors into investment decisions are considering it, which is the highest rate in the survey’s history and nearly three times the result from 2019.

Endowments retained their distinction as the top ESG incorporator and increased their adoption rate, coming in at 63% in 2020 compared to 58% in 2019.

Public plans have incorporated ESG factors into investment decisions at a higher rate (36%) than their corporate counterparts (32%).


“Despite regulatory uncertainty in the U.S. and differing guidance from various regulatory bodies about ESG, we see increasing investor interest in incorporating financially material ESG factors into their investment processes,” said Tom Shingler, senior vice president and chair of Callan’s ESG Committee. “We believe the move toward more ESG incorporation is consistent with the long-term investment approach of institutional investors.”


The survey was conducted from June to July 2020 and reflects input from 102 unique U.S. institutional investors on their approach to ESG factors when evaluating investments. The survey includes responses from public and corporate defined benefit and defined contribution plans, as well as from endowments and foundations. Respondents also represented plans of all sizes, ranging from small (<$500mm) to large (>$20bn).

Find the survey in Callan’s Research Library (no-cost registration).


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Callan was founded as an employee-owned investment consulting firm in 1973. Ever since, we have empowered institutional clients with creative, customized investment solutions backed by proprietary research, exclusive data, and ongoing education. Today, Callan advises on more than $2 trillion in total fund sponsor assets, which makes it among the largest independently owned investment consulting firms in the U.S. Callan uses a client-focused consulting model to serve pension and defined contribution plan sponsors, endowments, foundations, independent investment advisers, investment managers, and other asset owners. Callan has six offices throughout the U.S. Learn more at


All opinions expressed are those of the author. is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around ESG investing topics.