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Who cares about the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
The bar chart below shows all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the number of MSCI ACWI Index companies that have publicly disclosed their support for each goal. Click on each SDG’s bar to view a pop-out window showing the percentage of companies that have not publicly disclosed support for an SDG, but have products or services aligned with a goal — as well as the percentage that committed to the SDG but have been involved in a serious controversy in the same area. Click on each bar within the pop-up window to view the top five companies associated in each category.
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Sources: MSCI ESG Research LLC, company-specific websites, UN Global Compact Communication on Progress reports.
As the UN SDGs gain broader adoption among companies, investors aim to understand which of their portfolio companies may miss the opportunity to support the goals and which could face allegations of “rainbow-washing.” Rainbow-washing occurs when a company claims to support an SDG but is implicated in a serious controversy that might belie the declared support. We found that 283 (9%) of MSCI ACWI Index constituents that had publicly committed to an SDG had been implicated in such a controversy. Conversely, we found 860 companies (28% of 3,047 constituents of MSCI ACWI Index as of March 17, 2020) that did not publicly commit to any SDGs but offered products or services that align with one of the SDGs shown above. These companies’ bashful silence might represent a missed opportunity to demonstrate they are aligned with the mission of the UN SDGs.