Ropes & Gray’s State ESG Website 2.0: Our Enhanced 50-State Survey

July 18, 2023
3 minutes

Over the last two years, Ropes & Gray has been closely monitoring and providing analysis and guidance on the debate over the use of ESG factors in public pension investments. Our award-winning, interactive website, Navigating State Regulation of ESG Investments, offers detailed coverage of the developments in each state with detailed summaries and commentary. We are delighted to announce the next iteration of our 50-state survey website, which offers powerful, new tools to help users stay up to date with the latest developments in each state.

The new version of our website will help clients stay in front of new developments as they emerge. We have found that the first half of 2023 has been characterized by a whirlwind of activity in this area, including, new legislation, executive actions and multi-state coalition efforts. Most of these initiatives have come from the red states, whether it has been new legislation to impose strict guardrails on the considerations that plan fiduciaries can review as part of their investment decision-making process or the creation of restricted lists naming financial institutions that allegedly boycott certain industries like fossil fuel and firearms. Lawmakers in multiple states have also proposed bills seeking to prohibit public entities from discriminating against contractors and service providers on the basis of ESG criteria or scores.

Some of the exciting, new enhancements include:

  • An Interactive, Customizable Map – As summarized in our alert about HB3, the broad anti-ESG bill that Florida enacted this spring, many of the proposals that have been introduced this year have taken a multi-pronged approach to curbing the use of ESG and protecting the interests of particular industries. In order to better capture these attributes, our website now offers an interactive map that enables users to visualize and easily toggle among the different categories of legislation and regulatory actions that have been introduced in each state. By hovering over each state, users can see a count of the number of actions that have been introduced by category along with notes on the most recent developments in each state.
  • Ropes & Gray’s Proprietary ESG Assessment – Our team has developed its own methodology to assess which color (representing the category of ESG action) we believe best describes what is happening in each state. The Ropes & Gray assessment goes beyond just evaluating formal legislative action as it takes into consideration a broad range of important data including, the following factors (in the order listed):

    1. Any enacted or pending legislation;
    2. Enforcement activities undertaken by the governor, attorney general or treasurer;
    3. Public statements by these officials; and
    4. Participation in multi-state coalitions.
  • Enhanced State Pages – The map provides hyperlinks directly to each state’s page, where the details of each action are presented in a tabular format that should help users more easily find an action’s key data such as the effective date (if applicable) as well as which color-coded category applies.
  • Streamlined access to Ropes & Gray’s industry-leading thought leadership – The website includes a dedicated repository to house all of our thought leadership on state ESG. Recent highlights include: a webinar focused on the intersection of data and the current landscape of state ESG and a long-form podcast focused on navigating the growing anti-ESG sentiment.

Be sure to visit this website often as our cross-practice team of ERISA, employee benefits and ESG specialists plan to update this site with new developments and thought leadership regularly. You can also subscribe to our dedicated mailing list, “State Retirement Plan ESG Investment Updates,” to remain current about developments important to you, as well as to access our forthcoming white paper entitled ESG and Public Pension Investing in 2023: The First Half in Review, which will provide exclusive insights on what has happened in each state so far in 2023.

About Our Practice

Ropes & Gray has a leading ESG, CSR and business and human rights compliance practice. We offer clients a comprehensive approach in these subject areas through a global team with members in the United States, Europe and Asia. In addition, senior members of the practice have advised on these matters for more than 30 years, enabling us to provide a long-term perspective that few firms can match.

For further information on the practice, click here.