When the ESG investing framework—standing for Environment, Social and Governance—was first introduced among investors and business leaders, it was intended to inspire or demonstrate a greater concern for the environment and society upon which major corporations depend. It has most often been applied to influence organizational decisions around resource consumption, staff diversity, and overall carbon footprint.
Over the past year, there has been mounting opposition from some state treasurers and legislatures to private and public ESG initiatives—particularly in the Ten Across region. Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama, for example, now belong to a growing number of states that have either introduced or signed legislation prohibiting state involvement with organizations that have factored ESG criteria into their operations.
While the industry term continues to occupy media and political attention, this conversation between Ten Across founder Duke Reiter; the former CEO of The Nature Conservancy, Mark Tercek; and current Senior Vice President of ESG Strategy at The Howard Hughes Corporation, Gautami Palanki seeks to provide greater insight into the practical and proven applications of ESG performance metrics.
“I’m originally from India, and I think the details of what it takes to move to this country, be successful in this country, are sometimes lost in the noise. And I think sometimes what we need is people to speak out who’ve had that experience… Just an example from my personal sphere of influence, that’s how we think about inclusivity within the company as well… So, first and foremost, it’s of course the talent that we want to attract, retain and be a part of in Howard Hughes, across our regions. And so, we want to ensure that, you know, no matter who you are or where you are, if you have the talent, you can be a part of our team.”
— Gautami Palanki
“I think if we speak in intelligent ways about why these different initiatives make sense and deliver outcomes that everybody should want, we’ll carry the day. So that’s another reason why business leaders need to speak up. They just need to do it carefully because we don’t want them to get bogged down in this political noise.”
— Mark Tercek
Gautami Palanki is the Senior Vice President of ESG Strategy at The Howard Hughes Corporation. A licensed architect and LEED Fellow, Gautami holds over fifteen years of global experience at the intersection of real estate, sustainability, and technology and has keynoted talks and led workshops in more than 20 countries.
Mark Tercek is a speaker, writer and advisor to business, institutional investors, and climate start-ups. As a former investment banker, Mark pioneered Goldman Sachs’ environmental efforts in 2005 and then went on to lead The Nature Conservancy from 2008 to 2019. He is the author of Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature and the bi-monthly Substack on current corporate ESG practices, The Instigator.