Pharma companies tone down ESG mentions, but not ambitions

Pharma companies are scaling back the use of terms like “ESG” and “diversity, equity and inclusion,” much like companies in other industries.

In pharma 10-K filings, mentions of ESG, sustainability, or diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) dropped 15% in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same three months in 2023, according to data from AlphaSense. Of the pharma annual filings in the first three months of 2024, 65 mentioned any of those terms, down from 76 during the same period last year.

The shift follows a surge in popularity of the terms in early 2023. ESG wasn’t mentioned in the pharma filings until 2020, and DE&I wasn’t used until 2021, according to AlphaSense. Pharma companies have been more likely to talk about sustainability in recent years, though that term also saw a boom in usage in 2023.

Experts say the change is more of a shift in…
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