ESG investing statistics

A comprehensive study of the state of ESG in the UK.

There is growing emphasis for companies to clean up their operations, with ESG (environment, social and governance) investing being a key factor for investor analysis. We conducted a survey into how many people in the UK invest, how ethical their portfolios are and if current non-investors would be swayed to invest into ethically run companies.

ESG statistics: Highlights

  • 1 in 10 UK investors have taken part in ESG investing.
  • 76% of consumers will stop buying from companies that treat the environment poorly.
  • 88% of consumers will be more loyal to companies that support social and environmental initiatives.
  • 88% of publicly traded companies had an ESG initiative as of 2020.
  • However, 58% of executives admitted to instances of greenwashing within their organization.
  • 80% of the world’s largest companies are reporting significant exposure to climate change risks according to external research.
  • Millennials are the most likely to invest ethically, as 14% of millennial investors have been involved in ESG investing.

Does the UK invest ethically?

Our recent survey found that, while over half of UK adults have invested as of 2024, just 1 in 10 of those investors (11%) had ESG investments as part of their portfolio. While a previous Finder survey revealed that 77% of investors would consider investing ethically, it seems this has not yet translated into reality.

Ethical investing varies among the generations. Millennials are the most likely to have an ESG investment, with 14% having done so. They are followed by generation Z, with 9% having invested in ESG.

Meanwhile, just 7% of generation X, 5% of baby boomers and 4% of the silent generation have made an ESG investment.

Why is ESG important for companies?

ESG is key for companies today, since consumers are more conscious of the environmental impact of their consumption. Research shows that 88% of consumers will be more loyal to companies that support social and environmental initiatives. There is a lot of opportunity for companies to improve on ESG, only 50% of companies believe they measure up well against environmental metrics, according to a recent global survey.

Committing to ESG can be costly, but the upside of the initial investment is reflected in the stock market. According to a recent metastudy, the majority of ESG investment funds perform better than the overall market.

Opinion Percentage
Companies that believe they meet environmental metrics 50%
Consumers that are more loyal to ESG friendly companies 88%

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing occurs when companies focus more on marketing themselves as environmentally friendly than on limiting their negative environmental impact. A recent global survey found that around 80% of executives believe their organization is meeting ESG metrics, but 58% of the same executives admitted to instances of greenwashing within their organization.

Greenwashing can backfire, if consumers find out about it. Recent research shows that around 76% of consumers will stop buying from companies that treat the environment poorly.

Importance and adoption of ESG

Aside from attracting interest from consumers and investors, many companies around the world are directly affected by their ESG effort. 4 in 5 (80%) of the world’s largest companies are reporting significant exposure to climate change risks according to external research. In light of this, more than three-quarters (77%) of small and mid-sized companies in the UK formally stated their ESG goals, according to recent research.

How many ESG funds are there?

As of 2021, there were 167 ESG funds in the UK for investors to choose from. According to external research, 88% of publicly traded companies had some ESG initiative in place, as of 2020. By comparison, only around 2 in 3 (67%) private companies had ESG initiatives in place at the same time.

Company Ownership Percentage
Publicly traded 88%
Privately owned 67%

Methodology

  • Finder commissioned Onepoll on 7–11 November 2020 to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+.
  • A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.

For all media enquiries, please contact

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

Sources

  • PwC
  • The Future of Commerce
  • NYU Stern
  • Navex Global
  • Fidelity UK
  • Cone Communications
  • S&P Global

More guides on Finder

  • How to buy iShares Core MSCI Japan IMI UCITS ETF USD Acc

    Ever wondered how to invest in SJPA ETF? Learn more about it now and find out where you can invest in it. Compare ETF brokers to start investing today.

  • How to buy SPDR FTSE UK All Share UCITS ETF Acc

    Ever wondered how to invest in FTAL ETF? Learn more about it now and find out where you can invest in it. Compare ETF brokers to start investing today.

  • How to buy Franklin FTSE United Kingdom ETF

    Ever wondered how to invest in FLGB ETF? Learn more about it now and find out where you can invest in it. Compare ETF brokers to start investing today.

  • How to buy HSBC FTSE 100 UCITS ETF

    Ever wondered how to invest in HUKX ETF? Learn more about it now and find out where you can invest in it. Compare ETF brokers to start investing today.

  • How to buy Flutter Entertainment shares

    Thinking about buying shares in Flutter Entertainment? We explain how to do it and compare a range of providers who will give you access to global markets.

  • How to buy Dettol shares | 4139p

    Sales of Reckitt Bencksier products like Dettol have risen due to coronavirus. Here’s how you can invest in Dettol, by buying Reckitt Benckiser shares.

  • How to buy AT&T shares

    Ever wondered how to buy shares in AT&T? We explain how and compare a range of providers that can give you access to many brands, including AT&T.

  • How to buy Wincanton shares

    Ever wondered how to buy shares in Wincanton? We explain how and compare a range of providers that can give you access to many brands, including Wincanton.

  • How to buy United Utilities Group shares

    Ever wondered how to buy shares in United Utilities? We explain how and compare a range of providers that can give you access to many brands, including United Utilities.

  • How to buy Relx shares

    Find out how to buy shares in RELX, see its share prices over the last three months and check out our must-do checklist if you’re looking to invest.

Go to site