I’ve heard Dave Snowden suggest that executives are trapped in a Stockholm syndrome relationship with their HR/OD functions. I am starting to think this might apply in the case of their ESG ratings agencies too.
Stockholm syndrome is a coping mechanism in which people develop positive feelings toward their captors or abusers over time. Other symptoms are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder and include:
- Feeling distrustful, irritated, jittery or anxious
- An inability to relax or enjoy things that you previously enjoyed
- Trouble concentrating.
Stockholm syndrome isn’t recognised as an official psychological condition in the DSM and there’s no standard treatment. Talk therapy is recommended to:
- Understand your experience
- Understand how sympathetic behaviour toward your captors was a survival skill
- Learn how you can move forward with your life.
I don’t think these recommendations are useful under the circumstances.
In my opinion, active engagement is recommended to:
- Realise that ESG shows only one facet of the sustainability spectrum
- Appreciate that ESG raters could be trapped in their own syndromes
- Develop a context-based view to inform your next step.
ESG is a standardised hygiene factor. Context-based sustainability includes ESG but is more nuanced and strategic.