The adoption of environmental, social and governance measures in executive incentive plans continues to increase across markets, especially in North America, according to a new report by WTW.
The report, which reviewed public disclosures from more than 1,100 global companies, found metrics related to human capital remained the most popular across all ESG categories, used by 75 per cent of TSX 60 companies and 70 per cent of S&P 500 companies.
Over the past three years, the use of environmental metrics rose from 27 per cent to 50 per cent in Canada and from 12 per cent to 44 per cent in the U.S., with carbon emissions reduction the most common metric.
In Canada, four in five TSX 60 companies reported using at least one ESG metric in their executive incentive plans, up from 68 per cent three years ago. In the U.S., three-quarters (76 per cent) of employers reported they incorporated at least one ESG metric into their executive incentive plans, an increase from 69 per cent the previous year and 52 per cent three years ago.
The prevalence of ESG metrics within executive incentive plans continued to rise in Europe (93 per cent, up from 90 per cent) and Asia Pacific (77 per cent, up from 63 per cent). Many European companies also reported including ESG metrics in their long-term incentive plans, mostly in the environmental and climate areas, increasing from 21 per cent to 56 per cent over the past three years. In addition, more than 80 per cent of European companies used at least one human capital metric in their executive incentive plans.
“Companies’ interest in tying executive incentive plans to ESG measures is showing no signs of abating,” said Robert Newbury, senior director of the global executive compensation analysis team at WTW, in a press release. “In fact, we’re seeing narrower industry gaps in the use of ESG metrics as we see increased adoption in the [information technology] and consumer goods industries. The ongoing growth we’re seeing reflects the continued focus from companies . . . to articulate how ESG priorities are embedded in their business strategy and how they are seen as a key measure of non-financial performance.”