Wednesday, October 5

Diller Dismisses Corporate ESG Principles as ‘Virtue Signaling’

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(Bloomberg) — Expedia Group Inc. Chairman Barry Diller largely dismissed the inclusion of environmental, social and governance principles in corporate decision making, saying many such programs just produce “glossy reports.”

“Most of ESG is virtue signaling, I’m afraid,” Diller said Tuesday at the Skift Global Forum travel conference in New York. BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink’s push for companies to become more sustainable was “above criticism” for several years, Diller said. But, while some ESG programs make sense, most of them are “truly empty calories.”

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Many of the energy companies are beginning to get it right, Diller said. “When you talk about the big issue in practical terms, they’re at the crux of it.”

Improving sustainability across industries has become popular in recent years as asset managers, banks and regulators pressure companies to lower emissions. While most agree that’s a worthy cause, critics of the ESG movement say some companies oversell their green credentials or that the principles shouldn’t be included in business decisions.

Expedia is among other travel companies like rival Booking Holdings Inc. that are adopting sustainability principles. The Seattle-based company unveiled a strategy last week focused on expanding access to underserved travelers, such as people with disabilities, and developing a long-term climate plan .

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