The London skyline in daytime containing buildings owned by organisation within the private equity industry.

Private equity organisations are increasingly influencing global markets, placing them in a strong position to make significant environmental and social changes through their investment decisions.

The importance of sustainability in the private equity industry has grown, highlighted by an increasing awareness of its ability to improve long-term investment returns, reduce risks and contribute positively towards the wider aims of sustainable development.

This growing emphasis on sustainability is mainly driven by the alignment of investment practices with global sustainability objectives, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the climate targets set by the Paris Agreement. These global agreements have pushed forward a change within the private equity industry, stressing the importance of incorporating ESG factors into all aspects of investment analysis, portfolio management and interactions with stakeholders.


The State of Sustainability in the Private Equity Industry in 2024

The private equity industry is now widely acknowledged for its expertise in finance as well as its crucial role in driving towards a sustainable future. This recognition arises against growing global challenges such as climate change, the scarcity of resources and social inequality, pushing sustainability to the forefront of investment considerations.

The industry’s alignment with global sustainability objectives has greatly influenced its operational and strategic priorities. These global goals have acted as motivators, prompting private equity organisations to examine their investment practices and the organisations they invest in through the ESG criteria lens. This alignment goes beyond just complying with regulatory demands, it’s a strategic approach to reduce risks and discover new opportunities in an evolving global environment.


Key Sustainability Trends in the Private Equity Industry

As the private equity industry moves through 2024, it is being shaped by various trends that mark a significant change in investment philosophies and operational strategies. These trends demonstrate the industry’s growing dedication to incorporating sustainability into its fundamental activities, acknowledging the role it plays in fostering long-term, sustainable growth.

ESG Integration in Investment Analysis

A significant percentage of the studies indicate a positive association between ESG integration and economic performance.¹

The increased focus on integrating ESG aspects reflects private equity organisations’ growing awareness of the significance of sustainability factors in pinpointing resilient and high-potential investments. By incorporating ESG considerations into their analysis, private equity organisations are better equipped to evaluate risks and opportunities, leading to more informed investment decisions that support long-term value creation and sustainability objectives.

Impact Investing and Sustainable Portfolio Management

Impact investing strives to generate positive and measurable social and environmental impact in addition to financial returns on invested capital²

The emergence of impact investing marks a change in the industry’s perspective, making tangible, positive impacts an integral part of investment success. For private equity organisations, this entails actively identifying and managing investments in ways that contribute to sustainable development goals, therefore increasing the societal value of their portfolios while still securing competitive returns.

Partnership and Collaboration for Sustainability

About 73% of the respondents believed that SC collaboration adds value to their companies, while only 2% perceived no value in supply chain collaboration.³

These cooperative efforts promote the exchange of best practices, resources and innovations, pushing the shift towards a more sustainable economy. For the private equity industry, this trend provides new opportunities for facilitating and benefiting from collaborative projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions, improving resource efficiency and promoting sustainable development.


Challenges to Sustainability in the Private Equity Industry

The push for the private equity industry towards incorporating sustainability into its investment philosophy and operations is complex. These challenges highlight the delicate balance between financial goals and sustainability objectives within the industry.

A key challenge for private equity organisations is aligning sustainability initiatives with expectations of financial performance. The apparent conflict between securing competitive financial returns and achieving sustainability goals frequently presents a challenge for fund managers and investors. This issue requires inventive investment strategies that show sustainability and financial returns are not opposing goals but can support each other. Overcoming this perception is important for the broader acceptance of ESG criteria and impact investing within the industry.

The thorough assessment and management of ESG risks across varied portfolio organisations poses a challenge due to the differences in ESG risk exposure and the availability of data across industries and regions, making standardised assessment challenging. Private equity organisations must develop strong frameworks for ESG risk assessment that are flexible across different investment situations. This includes improving due diligence processes and enhancing ESG risk management capabilities, both within the private equity organisations and their portfolios.

The changing regulatory landscape regarding sustainability reporting and ESG disclosures introduces additional complexities to the sustainability efforts of the private equity industry. Uncertainty in regulations and the absence of standardised reporting frameworks may obstruct the industry’s ability to comply effectively and consistently. To navigate this challenge, continuous involvement with regulatory changes and active contribution to the development of industry standards for sustainability reporting are essential. This also highlights the necessity for flexibility and adaptability in the sustainability strategies of private equity organisations.

Although individual private equity organisations are advancing in sustainability, attaining substantial scale and impact throughout the industry and the wider economy is still challenging. The fragmented structure of the private equity industry, along with competitive dynamics, frequently restricts cooperative efforts that could lead to industry-wide transformation. To overcome this challenge, there’s a need for increased collaboration within the industry, which includes forming partnerships with competitors to standardise ESG practices and enhance the overall impact of sustainability initiatives. Additionally, it requires private equity organisations to promote sustainability within their portfolios as well as throughout their entire investment ecosystem.


Opportunities and Strategies for Sustainable Private Equity

Sustainability in the private equity industry presents numerous opportunities for innovation, leadership and strategic investments that are in line with long-term environmental and social goals. By taking a proactive stance, private equity organisations can utilise these opportunities to reshape the value proposition of investments within the framework of sustainability.

Leveraging Data and Technology for ESG Integration

Strategy: Employ sophisticated data analytics and technological solutions to improve the incorporation of ESG factors into investment decision-making and portfolio management. This involves the adoption of platforms that offer extensive ESG data and insights, facilitating more informed and transparent investment decisions.

Opportunity: The strategic application of data and technology can notably enhance the precision and efficiency of ESG evaluations, providing private equity organisations with a competitive advantage in identifying and managing potential risks and opportunities associated with sustainability. This method also promotes increased transparency and accountability in reporting ESG performance to stakeholders.

Building Capacity for Sustainable Investing

Strategy: Build internal expertise and capabilities centred on sustainable investing through investments in specialised training, knowledge exchange and recruitment practices that emphasise sustainability skills and experience.

Opportunity: Strengthening the private equity firm’s internal capacity for sustainable investing leads to a more comprehensive understanding of ESG issues and their impact on investments. This strategic investment in human resources ensures that sustainability considerations are integrated throughout the investment process, from due diligence to exit strategies.

Fostering Partnerships for Sustainability Impact

Strategy: Form partnerships with portfolio organisations, other investors, governmental bodies and non-governmental organisations to advance sustainability initiatives and exchange best practices. Collaborative efforts can amplify the impact of sustainability investments and encourage the sharing of innovative solutions across various industries.

Opportunity: Collaborative initiatives allow private equity organisations to combine resources and expertise to address complex sustainability challenges more efficiently. These partnerships enhance the effectiveness of individual sustainability efforts and establish the organisations as leaders in a more sustainable and resilient economy.

Driving Sustainable Innovation through Investments

Strategy: Proactively pursue investment opportunities in organisations and technologies leading in sustainable innovation. This entails concentrating on industries like renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and the circular economy.

Opportunity: By directing capital into organisations and technologies that provide sustainable solutions, private equity organisations can stimulate sustainability innovation while achieving appealing financial returns. These investments can aid the shift towards a low-carbon and sustainable economy as well as helping the private equity industry’s contribution to innovation and growth within emerging sustainability markets.


Why Do Private Equity Organisations Choose McGrady Clarke?

Private equity organisations choose McGrady Clarke due to our extensive knowledge in reducing energy costs, ensuring adherence to environmental regulations and promoting sustainability initiatives. We provide tailored efficiency assessments that reduce operational costs and increase the value of portfolio organisations, in addition to carbon management services to assist private equity organisations in lowering their carbon footprint and complying with regulatory demands.

Our services are carefully designed to meet the unique requirements of the private equity industry, offering economic benefits while supporting sustainable investment practices. This positions McGrady Clarke as the preferred partner for private equity organisations looking to improve financial performance and exhibit environmental responsibility in their investment portfolios.



¹ Sumit, K. (2023). A review of esg integration & return of financial instruments in various market segment and societies. Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 27(3), 1-4. Retrieved from Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

² Busch, T., Bruce-Clark, P., Derwall, J. et al. (2021). Impact investments: a call for (re)orientation. SN Business & Economics, 1, 33. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

³  Oke, A., Osobajo, O.A., & Taylor, S. (2024). Addressing the Trilemma of Challenges: The Need for More SC Strategic Collaborations in the UK Oil and Gas Sector. Sustainability, 16(2), 570. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.