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Nasdaq's diversity plan for listed companies; BofA halts Arctic oil financing

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Nasdaq's diversity plan for listed companies; BofA halts Arctic oil financing

The ESG Insider newsletter compiles news and insights on environmental, social and governance developments driving change in business and investment decisions. Subscribe to our ESG Insider newsletter, and listen to the ESG Insider podcast on SoundCloud, Spotify or Apple podcasts.

Yesterday another big Wall Street institution joined the growing list of companies pushing for board diversity.

New York-based exchange giant Nasdaq Inc. wants to roll out a series of listing requirements that would force companies listed on its U.S. trading venues to begin publicly disclosing diversity statistics about their boards. Listed companies would eventually need at least one director who self-identifies as female and another who identifies as either an underrepresented minority or member of the LGBTQ+ community.

"We believe this listing rule is one step in a broader journey to achieve inclusive representation across corporate America," Nasdaq President and CEO Adena Friedman said in a statement.

This week also brought news that Bank of America Corp. formally committed to stop financing oil and gas exploration in the Arctic — a move that brings it in line with many large bank peers around the world.

"The fact that you see so many global banks coming to the same conclusion — that it's really just not worth it from a financial perspective to fund drilling in the Arctic ... shows how much of a business decision this is, in addition to the real reputational risk to the banks," Liz Levy, portfolio manager at sustainable investment firm Trillium Asset Management LLC, told ESG Insider.

Those reputational risks could be sizable, as ESG investing continued to grow in the U.S. in 2020. Our Chart of the Week shows that U.S. sustainable investments surpassed $17 trillion at the outset of the year. Assets sustainably invested accounted for about a third of the total $51.4 trillion of assets under management in the U.S., according to research from U.S. SIF, or the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

Chart of the Week

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Questions or suggestions? Contact S&P Global Market Intelligence's ESG News team at ESGNews@spglobal.com.