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Paper author: Elizabeth Pollman

ESG is one of the most notable trends in corporate governance, management, and investment of the past two decades. Yet few observers know where the term comes from, who coined it, and what it was originally aimed to mean and achieve. As trillions of dollars have flowed into ESG-labeled investment products, and companies and regulators have grappled with ESG policies, a variety of usages of the term have developed that range from seemingly neutral concepts of integrating “environmental, social, and governance” issues into investment analysis to value-laden notions of corporate social responsibility or preferences for what some have characterized as “woke capitalism.”

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