Rajeev Peshawaria CNBC Interview: Why ESG should be ESL


25 May 2023


Rajeev Peshawaria, CEO of Stewardship Asia Centre (SAC), discussed the limitations of the ESG framework and the need for more companies to adopt a steward leadership stance model in an interview broadcast on CNBC Street Signs Asia. In conversation with anchors Teymoor Nabili and Tanvir Gill, Rajeev advised against an over-reliance on governance and regulation. 

While regulation is essential for minimising harm; it does not encourage and foster the innovation needed to address the challenges facing the planet and society. Rajeev shared that real change at scale requires more corporate leaders to accept the 21st-century leadership challenge, which is to drive superior shareholder returns by addressing the existential threats humanity faces. Such leaders prioritise innovation and create solutions to help the planet and its people.

Rajeev also explained that it is not necessary for 100% of companies to take on the challenge of doing well by doing good. In line with Pareto’s 80/20 Rule, 20% of purpose-driven companies would create 80% of the change needed today. The merits of steward leadership lie in its holistic and values-based approach, and SAC has studied companies worldwide that have successfully adopted the framework. 

As such, Rajeev argued that the current ESG framework should be upgraded to “ESL,” where “L” enables a stronger focus on effective leadership. Through steward leadership, corporates have the power to drive transformative change for a collective better future without compromising on financial performance.