Traditional, American Private market investors who have adopted environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) frameworks — the very few to date — did so to evaluate a potential company or investment in how it approached areas such as sustainability or diversity.
But now, in the post-Roe era, as controversial conservative legislation sweeps the country, some VC investors and founders believe the social definition of ESG investing should be expanded to include pressing human rights issues, such as reproductive health care.
Last year, Amnesty International found that none of the top venture capital firms adequately respect human rights in their due diligence, while an analysis in the Stanford Social Innovation Review found that of the 2,900 venture capital firms worldwide, only a few dozen have made a public commitment to ESG. investing. That could change as private markets come under more consumer pressure to offset government deficits.
An urgent issue to consider now is the uncertainty of reproductive health care as states seek to further restrict access to abortion and contraception. Extending the definition of social investing to reproductive health makes the subject more urgent and reframes its economic and social importance.