(Bloomberg) -- A push by the private equity industry to measure its effect on the environment and society is gaining steam.
Apollo Global Management Inc, Ares Management Corp. and Oaktree Capital Management are among firms that have agreed to collect data on greenhouse emissions, workplace fatalities and women in board seats of portfolio companies. They join a group convened by Carlyle Group Inc. and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, according to a statement Friday.
In recent months, more than 70 private equity firms have signed onto the effort to standardize reporting the data, up from seven that initially agreed to in late September. The coalition also includes nearly 40 institutional investors.
The group’s growing heft -- $8.7 trillion in total assets -- gives it new sway over the debate in Washington over whether the industry needs new environmental, social and governance reporting rules. In March, then-acting Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Allison Herren Lee asked the industry about what climate disclosures privately-listed companies were making.
Pensions, endowments and other large investors are demanding information on how private equity firms manage the risks from their growing reach across the economy.
The group has agreed to collect information on ESG metrics, including specific kinds of emissions. A third party will aggregate the data and produce benchmarks. The group has also come up with a template so investors can request that information from their asset managers. Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News, is a provider of ESG data.
Any changes to the metrics will require a majority vote of the group, said Megan Starr, Carlyle’s head of impact. The focus is on collecting data that affects companies’ profits, she said. “Financial materiality is critical,” Starr said in an interview.
Private equity, an industry renowned for rapacious cost cutting and saddling companies with debt, is under pressure to show it can make profits while being attentive to the social costs of its business.
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“We want our LPs to hold us accountable for our ESG outcomes, and having a common set of metrics facilitates that,” said Priya Prasad Bowe, head of ESG at Oaktree.
Dan Rueven, principal of Kinneret Group, a $1.7 billion investment firm, said: “We would hope other investors take the cue from this exercise, and are asking the important questions in their own way.”
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