General Atlantic’s Gomez on guarding against greenwash

Cornelia Gomez, former head of ESG at PAI Partners and now General Atlantic's global ESG head, gives three practical tips to ensure ESG is embedded into investment processes.

How does one make sure ESG considerations are baked into the investment process? Cornelia Gomez, who joined General Atlantic as its head of ESG earlier this year, offers some highly practical tips. Gomez, who was previously head of ESG at PAI Partners, was responding to Jim Roth’s four steps to cutting through greenwash. Here is her advice:

Ask about the less obvious

“One good way to sniff out the spin story is to ask the deal teams very simple questions on the less obvious factors in the ESG set of topics,” writes Gomez. “For example, if they have invested in a pharmaceutical company and keep honing the patient/societal benefits, what is being done to protect patient data? If they have invested in a solar lamps business, how are they securing their raw materials supply chain (conflict minerals, labour conditions, etc). The ESG team will always have a good answer, but not always the deal teams.”

Get it in the contract

“Does the GP include ESG clauses in the management shareholder agreement/term sheet between signing and closing? Or have an ESG side letter? Hard language is not necessary, but it needs to be part of the understanding from day one.”

SFDR stamp of approval

“If the GP is EU-based and claims to have an impact strategy, it should be compliant with SFDR Article 9’s requirements,” writes Gomez. “Granted, it’s a moving goalpost but it is the best certification stamp out there.”

How do you ensure ESG or impact goes beyond lip-service? We’d love to hear your thoughts: