Insight

Environmental, Social, and Governance: Government leadership as a catalyst for success

Leading by example drives government transformation

Lorna Stark

Lorna Stark

National Government & Public Sector Leader, KPMG US

+1 212-872-3396

Brenda Walker

Brenda Walker

Partner, Federal Advisory Leader, KPMG US

+1 703-286-8621

Corinne Dougherty

Corinne Dougherty

Partner, Audit, KPMG US

+1 202-533-7066

The Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) movement has quickly evolved in the U.S. from socially responsible investing to a strategic imperative, affecting not only investment decisions and shareholders but also business strategy, the economy, and people around the world. For governments, the goal is to build long-term sustainability and achieve desired outcomes for constituents and other stakeholders.

Governments are not new to addressing environmental and social issues. However, key forces are driving the need for all levels of government—federal, state, regional, local, and tribal—to focus on ESG holistically as central to their missions. With increasing global risks, the mounting costs of those risks, heightened employee, public, and stakeholder expectations, declining trust in government, and new funding opportunities, a focus on ESG can have a profound impact on mission achievement at all levels of governments.

For more insights into the U.S. public’s and government employees’ sentiments regarding governments’ approach to ESG, in the Spring of 2022, KPMG surveyed 1,000 U.S. residents and 427 federal, state, and city government employees. The survey reveals the degree to which government employees and constituents are holding governments accountable for addressing ESG issues, their satisfaction with governments’ action on ESG, the ESG issues of most importance to them, and other important insights.

In Environmental, Social, and Governance: Government leadership as a catalyst for success, we explore:

  • What key forces are driving the need for all levels of government to focus on ESG now
  • U.S. residents’ and federal, state, and city government employees’ sentiments regarding governments’ approach to ESG
  • ESG imperatives in government
  • Urgent ESG priorities in government
  • Four roles of government in addressing ESG issues
  • Key questions to ask when adopting an ESG lens
  • Challenges governments face in addressing ESG issues
  • Benefits of governments leading by example on ESG
  • Stories of governments taking action on ESG


Now is the time for governments to lead by example and make ESG investments in a coordinated manner so that positive outcomes can be greater than the sum of their parts over time, and consistently so. Now is the time to help deliver on the promise of a Modern Government—one that is connected, powered, and trusted, creating positive change that benefits government workers, constituents, and communities.

Now is the time for government agencies to transform their mindsets and consider ESG holistically as central to their missions rather than as siloed issues managed in distinct areas of the agency…This mindset shift, in which governments realize and embrace their leadership in ESG across their many roles, can serve as a catalyst for the success of the overall ESG movement and governments’ own modernization and transformation efforts.
Lorna Stark, National Sector Leader for Government, KPMG LLP

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