The ESG Data Convergence Initiative is not a new framework. The two main objectives of this initiative are to 1) catalyze convergence toward consistent reporting on material ESG metrics, leveraging previously existing and thoughtful frameworks as a guide for determining which metrics to report on, and 2) create a collaborative mechanism to improve this process every year.
Many ESG reporting frameworks have emerged, each with various areas of focus or oriented toward specific stakeholder groups. However, there has historically been a lack of convergence on a core set of ESG metrics for private companies. Until the ESG Data Convergence Initiative launched, LPs, GPs, underlying portfolio companies, and other players in the private markets reported using different frameworks, resulting in a lack of usable data in any single set of ESG metrics across private companies.
Aligning on a core, standardized set of metrics and a mechanism for comparative reporting allows GPs and portfolio companies to benchmark their current position and generate progress toward ESG improvements, while also enabling greater transparency and more comparable portfolio information for LPs.
BCG has worked closely with the EDCI Steering Committee to review what the EDCI benchmark reveals about ESG in private equity. While the majority of these insights will remain within the EDCI community of GPs and LPs, the Steering Committee has approved the public sharing of some high level insights in line with the EDCI’s mission of advancing the industry’s understanding on sustainability topics.
We are therefore pleased to be able to share BCG’s 2023 Sustainability in Private Equity report. The report discusses trends and insights from two years of EDCI data alongside practitioner case studies and insights from BCG’s experts. You can find the report and other findings on the Insights page.
You can join the EDCI through our online “Join Us” form, found here. After clicking this link, you should sign up as “Committed” and as the correct entity, then check the box at the bottom of the form to accept the Terms and Conditions. After signing up, you will receive a confirmation email and our team will be in touch with your countersigned data privacy agreement.
See the Membership page for more information on different types of entities that can join the EDCI.
The EDCI Steering Committee, composed of 8 LPs and 8 GPs, makes strategic decisions about the initiative and is led by two Co-Chairs (one GP and one LP: currently Carlyle and CPP Investments). For more details see the section on: EDCI Steering Committee
Membership is open to:
- All GPs and LPs in the private equity industry
- Investment managers with asset allocation responsibilities
- Private Credit firms
- Investment Consultants who advise EDCI-members
- Data platforms working with private equity GPs and LPs
See the linked Membership pages above for more information on the benefits for each type of entity as well as the commitments each entity makes to the EDCI when joining.
Participating Private Equity GPs and LPs are able to participate in the EDCI free of charge, and in doing so access the high-quality benchmark offering available to participants since the inaugural year (i.e. 2022). Starting in the summer of 2024, there will be an option for these members to upgrade to become premium EDCI members and access additional enhanced functionality, with the goal of helping to make the initiative self-sustaining over time.
The fee to upgrade will vary by fund AUM (to ensure these functionalities are accessible to all funds, regardless of size) and has been carefully designed to target covering initiative-related costs (not generating profit). Click here to read more about the EDCI’s path forward towards financial sustainability.
No, the EDCI is open to any institutional investors that agree to support the principles of the work.
Any EDCI member can participate in working groups, which operate in the spring of each year (ahead of the Steering Committee sprint). Past working group topics have included external engagement, technology platform engagement, operating model, a deep dive on Net Zero, and more.
Data security and privacy are of utmost importance to the EDCI, as a leading professional services firm, BCG’s business model fundamentally depends on client trust and data security. BCG is utilizing best-in-class protocols to protect GP and portfolio company data with several layers of security, outlined in the sections below.
BCG Expand, a benchmarking platform for financial services companies and wholly-owned subsidiary of BCG, serves as the EDCI data aggregator. BCG Expand has implemented measures to ensure data privacy and security, utilizing the same features and practices that BCG Expand puts in place for its benchmarking of other sensitive metrics for the broader financial services industry. The EDCI data environment undergoes regular vulnerability scanning and periodic penetration testing, and BCG Expand complies with all applicable data protection laws and regulations.
Manual data submissions are made using a fully encrypted system (following 256-bit AES protocol), with strict technical and operational security processes in place to ensure high levels of data protection pertaining to data storage. As part of this secure system:
- BCG Expand ensures all data is encrypted both during transfer and at rest.
- The EDCI data environment undergoes regular vulnerability scanning and periodic penetration testing.
- BCG Expand ensures compliance with all applicable data protection laws and regulations.
Members may also submit data through a participating ESG Data Platform with each platform completing a rigorous integration test before connecting to the EDCI’s platform.
Only a very small number of BCG Expand benchmarking specialists have access to a GP’s data submission (purely to conduct data validation checks with the GP). GP data submissions are not accessible to client-facing BCG team members. EDCI GPs are the only entities with access to their data within the benchmark portal.
In addition, the EDCI is currently piloting in-platform data sharing functionality for GPs, LPs, and Private Credit (PC) funds, based on recommendations from the EDCI Functionality working group. The SteerCo has heard from many GPs that they continue to field numerous different Excel-based data requests from LPs and PC funds, while these frictions mean that LPs and PC funds aren’t always able to get access to ESG data for the funds / PortCos in which they are invested.
This new functionality would provide the option for GPs to share their EDCI data directly with LPs and PCs securely and safely within the EDCI portal. This functionality would be highly optional for all EDCI members, with GPs fully in control of their data – including which elements get shared and with which firms, with the hope being that this helps address pain points for all members.
While the benchmark allows for flexible and tailored data cuts, no individual portfolio companies will be able to be identified. No data is shown in the benchmark when the sample size drops below seven (as agreed upon with the Steering Committee) for any data cut.
Only EDCI participants have access to the aggregated data, through the benchmark portal. Security methods to protect this include a two-factor-authentication (2FA) system to ensure only approved individuals have portal access. There are also robust firewalls in place within BCG to ensure that only EDCI members have access to the aggregated benchmark and associated insights.
In addition, any data platform that wishes to connect to the EDCI must undergo a robust data security assessment to ensure they align with the EDCI’s data security standards, and only EDCI GPs and LPs are able to access the benchmark within these approved data platforms.
While the majority of the benchmark insights will remain within the EDCI community, the Steering Committee has approved the public sharing of some high level insights in line with the EDCI’s mission of advancing the industry’s understanding on sustainability topics. Research will be presented only in an aggregated format that highlights key industry trends.
You can read BCG’s 2023 Sustainability in Private Equity report and other key learnings about ESG in private equity on the Insights page.
Keeping access to the EDCI benchmark within the community of EDCI participants is a foundational principle of the EDCI. This is designed to both protect participant data and incentivize Initiative uptake. As the legal entity responsible for creating and ensuring the quality of the benchmark, BCG is currently the owner and steward of the benchmark’s IP. This allows the EDCI Steering Committee to ensure that only EDCI participants can access the benchmark data and insights and that all participants who have access are complying with the terms and conditions. BCG’s role is one of a steward and supporting partner to the EDCI Steering Committee, and will always follow Steering Committee guidance on the use of this intellectual property (with use clearly restricted to EDCI participants). To read more about BCG’s role in supporting the EDCI please click here.
Participating GPs need to (1) commit to the EDCI and (2) sign a legal agreement in order to submit data. Once BCG Expand has received a data submission, the BCG Expand team reviews and validates the data points (following up with the GP directly with any queries).
ESG platforms can now connect to our API to submit data on behalf of GPs. This is an open (and completely voluntary) offer to all ESG data platforms currently storing ESG data on behalf of EDCI GPs that are interested in putting in place this functionality. This update is intended to help streamline the data submission process for GPs.
We invite technology platforms that would like to learn more about this update to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
GPs are asked to report data on an annual basis, by April 30 of each year. No other members are responsible for reporting any data.
No. The EDCI does not require GPs to share their data with LPs. GPs are welcome to share data with LPs at their own discretion.
While the ultimate aspiration is for each GP to get to 100% coverage, and we encourage GPs to provide as much data as they can, this is at the discretion of each participating GP. If you are unable to collect all EDCI metrics, we encourage you to join the EDCI and submit as much data as you can collect. The EDCI emphasizes “progress over perfection” as it pertains to data collection.
We acknowledge that it may be easier to collect and quality-control data from majority-owned companies. To this end, each GP reports based on a commitment to provide the highest quality data (on a “best efforts” basis). For example, many GPs have started with their largest funds and their majority-owned companies.
We hope that focusing on fewer initial metrics will allow any portfolio company to collect robust and quality data. However, we acknowledge that portfolio companies vary in their understanding of and ability to collect ESG metrics. For example, some companies do not know how to measure Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which are material but complex, while others already collect this data. Encouragingly, to date, across ~4,300 portfolio companies, the initiative saw metric submission rates of more than 80% for the majority of mandatory metrics.
While data submissions are not currently externally audited, and GPs are responsible for the quality of their own submissions, there are two mechanisms that help to ensure data accuracy:
- BCG Expand conducts data validation (e.g. checking data for outliers, ensuring data submissions are internally consistent, checking data submissions against peers) and reverts to participating GPs with questions as relevant
- GP portfolio company data is also shared with relevant LPs (when this is requested of GPs), and (in many cases) regulators, which helps to ensure the data is of high quality
Data validation is the process of ensuring that each data point in the benchmark was collected using a methodology consistent with the EDCI Metrics Guidance and that the data points are free of any clear errors (for example, renewable energy consumption being higher than total energy consumption). The BCG Expand team reviews each submission to the EDCI, looking for inconsistent methodologies, outliers, large year-to-year swings, and other data points that could be a sign of a possible error.
Importantly, Data validation is not an audit of the EDCI’s datasets. BCG Expand’s analysts do not ask GPs to provide receipts to confirm the numbers are correct, they are only looking at whether or not the data is consistent with the methodologies laid out in the metrics guidance or inconsistencies that may be the result of a wrong input.
This will depend on the amount of data the GP has submitted. It is important to reply to any queries as quickly as possible because the process often involves back and forth between the GP and the team at BCG Expand.
In the aggregate, the process begins after the data submission deadline (April 30th) and concludes in August. The exact date will depend on the number of submissions.
If your entire data set is not ready by April 30th (e.g., we often hear that collecting GHG emissions takes additional time), it is important to submit whatever data you have available in order to begin the validation process. Firms can submit additional data later on in the process if needed.
First, check your email to ensure that you have responded to the latest message from our team. If you have not heard from us within one month of submitting your data, please reach out to email@example.com and we will be in touch with an update as soon as we can.
GPs will report data to BCG Expand at the portfolio company level.
Data reported to BCG Expand will only be used in an aggregated fashion, and cannot be extracted at the GP, fund, or portfolio company level. The data shared with BCG Expand will be governed by the data privacy legal agreement with BCG Expand and cannot be used for any other applications.
The EDCI has developed an outbound API to enable data platforms to visualize EDCI data in their platform.
If you are a GP who would like to view the benchmark in your data platform, you can view a list of platforms with this functionality here.
GPs based in the southern hemisphere are welcome to submit data per their year-end. The data will be applied to the relevant benchmark year (e.g., data from July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023 would be submitted in the data collection cycle with a deadline of April 30th 2024, and included in that year’s benchmark).
The ESG Data Convergence Initiative aligned around the following guiding principles to inform the selection of the core metrics:
- Globally accepted: Selected from the most accepted and widely regarded frameworks
- Meaningful: From a financial or societal impact perspective
- Comparable: Allowing performance comparisons between portfolio companies and GPs
- Dynamic: Evolving metrics as tracking improves and understanding and materiality evolves
- Straightforward: Simple to accurately track, ensuring data quality and integrity
- Actionable: Tied to specific actions under GPs and portfolio companies’ control
- Objective: Minimizing subjectivity or need for interpretation
The Steering Committee will review the metrics every year and consider additions or modifications. In doing so, the Steering Committee will prioritize materiality and work collaboratively with members to increase the usefulness of the EDCI. The goal is to create a long-term mechanism that improves the quality, availability, and comparability of ESG data in private markets over time.
For example, each year the Steering Committee, supported by BCG, runs an extensive metric review process in close collaboration with members. To date, the Steering Committee has added two new metrics to the EDCI framework: Number of women in the C-Suite (added for the 2023 cycle) and Net Zero (added for the 2024 cycle).
The metrics will be tracked and reported in a standardized format for underlying portfolio companies in covered funds. The data will be aggregated into an anonymized benchmark (at the portfolio company level) which is accessible to EDCI members. However, only GPs will be able to directly compare their portfolio companies with the aggregated public and private benchmark by metric (data at the portfolio company level is not made available to EDCI members).
The founding members of the ESG Data Convergence Initiative felt that converging around an accessible set of core metrics was critical for enabling the private equity industry to make progress on ESG. The EDCI Steering Committee considered a wide variety of potential metrics for inclusion and chose to align around a core set of metrics that all fulfilled the key guiding principles.
No. We recognize that LPs (or PCs) will ask for more than the EDCI metrics going forward. However, when participating LPs (or PCs) seek information overlapping with or covered by EDCI metrics, we expect that they will align data requests to match the EDCI standardized definitions. We also hope that this effort will be part of broader conversations around how to converge on quantitative and qualitative ESG reporting that is more meaningful for our industry.
The EDCI incorporates a number of SFDR mandatory metrics, but not all of these metrics, as the EDCI initiative is focused on a core set of metrics that are particularly useful and comparable across different jurisdictions. However, we anticipate that as the EDCI metrics incrementally expand in the coming years, a number of the other SFDR PAIs will be high potential candidates for inclusion (based on member feedback).
In addition, we know that many GPs are collecting both the EDCI metrics and the SFDR PAI metrics. As such, BCG has developed a new, highly optional version of the EDCI template that will facilitate the completion of SFDR reporting framework tables, including the auto-population of relevant EDCI metrics.
This template is intended as an optional resource for GPs and does not represent an extension of the EDCI metrics to include the remaining PAIs.
You can download the template on the Metrics page here.
Disclosure: This template may be used as a tool to help support the reporting process in connection with the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation and related EU regulation (“SFDR”). If you or your company choose to use this template, it should not be relied upon to guarantee the need for, accuracy, scope, quality, or completeness of your company’s reporting submission, nor of its compliance with any specific SFDR-related requirement. In addition to SFDR, other ESG regulations, reporting frameworks, and best practices may vary by jurisdiction and industry. Consult with qualified professionals familiar with your company’s specific circumstances and compliance obligations. Neither BCG nor ILPA provide regulatory advice and do not assume any liability for any outcomes, consequences, or legal obligations arising from any ESG disclosure choices made by you or your company, including, but not limited to, with respect to the SFDR.
Participating members have access to a set of benchmarks showing averages, medians, and trends over time using normalizers. These benchmarks are highly flexible; participating members can filter the benchmarks by company attributes such as sector, industry (sub-sector), geography, growth stage and company size (revenues and FTEs). GPs can use the benchmarks to understand how their portfolio companies compare relative to their peers, and to identify opportunities for improvement. LPs and other members use the standardized benchmark to compare data points across their portfolio, and to better understand their portfolio exposure and performance on ESG domains relative to various benchmarks.
For more information, check out the Benchmark Demo page.
We believe that the partnership that we continue to build through the ESG Data Convergence Initiative can be broadly useful across the private markets. For example, we have a significant number of infrastructure and venture funds that are members of the EDCI and track and contribute data from their infrastructure / venture assets. We have also extended access to the EDCI to private credit funds. The EDCI will continue to engage on these topics, and consider potential opportunities to drive convergence across the private markets.
EDCI members can provide feedback about current metrics or potential additions through several channels – including feedback surveys, focus groups, and direct outreach to the EDCI team. For example, ahead of the Steering Committee metrics sprint, there are opportunities to share feedback through a survey or through focus groups, followed by a call for feedback from all participating GPs and LPs on the shortlist of potential changes that emerged from the sprint. As mentioned, you can always reach out at any point to the EDCI team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The EDCI has several resources for firms looking to learn more about how to harness the benchmark analytics. Firms can:
- Explore the Benchmark Demo (which includes dummy data) to learn more about the available benchmark dashboards.
- Attend EDCI office hours. The EDCI regularly holds office hours where members can learn more about the benchmark analytics in the Expand portal and ask specific benchmark questions. Video recordings of these sessions are also available. Members can reach out to email@example.com for more details.
Based on feedback from participating funds about the pain points they are continuing to experience, the EDCI is currently piloting data sharing functionality between interested GPs and LPs (and between GPs and Private Credit funds). Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in participating in this pilot.
You can learn more about the benchmark functionalities on the GP Membership page.
The EDCI has created a “Portfolio Comparison” dashboard for GP members that allows them to visualize their portfolio company performance against tailored benchmarks (as like-for-like as possible) for each of the EDCI metric.
You can more about the benchmark functionalities on the GP Membership page.
Each EDCI benchmark can be downloaded either as a chart (to assist with report building) or as a .CSV file (for use in offline models). Click on the 3 vertical dots next to any benchmark in the portal to download the data.
You can learn more about the benchmark functionalities on the GP Membership page.
The benchmark can be a helpful tool for initiating conversations with portfolio companies. GPs can leverage data submission rates to inform portfolio reporting, compare portfolio company metrics to tailored benchmarks, and evaluate company performance over time to inform strategic initiative development and target setting. Please feel free to share select data points from the benchmark with portfolio companies to assist in this.
Our experience has been that the benchmark is a highly strategic tool for GPs – helping them to understand relative strengths and challenges within their portfolio, and where there will likely be value creation opportunities to consider. However, we recommend GPs leverage the benchmark data as a directional tool, not a “final answer” on relative performance. For instance, there may be specific business model reasons to explain why some portfolio companies deviate from the benchmark.
The EDCI is currently piloting data sharing functionality that will allow LPs to analyze their investments directly in the benchmark portal. Please reach out to email@example.com if you’re interested in participating in this pilot.
You can learn more about the benchmark functionalities on the LP Membership page.
Yes! If your firm has developed a custom data management solution and you would like to visualize EDCI benchmark directly, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on how to integrate with the EDCI’s API.
The ESG Data Convergence Initiative is tech platform-agnostic. The initiative focuses on advancing a standardized set of ESG metrics and mechanism for comparative reporting, not on creating a new technology provider or data platform. GPs and LPs can continue to use their existing data systems to transmit, aggregate, and report ESG data from the ESG Data Convergence Initiative.
We are aware that GPs and LPs often use separate technology providers, so identifying one provider to replace all existing platforms would prove to be challenging. Our approach has been to be tech platform-agnostic and focus on harnessing energy to report on metrics in a standardized way.
ESG platforms can connect to our API to submit data on behalf of GPs to the EDCI. This is an open (and completely voluntary) offer to all ESG data platforms currently storing ESG data on behalf of EDCI GPs that are interested in putting in place this functionality. This update is intended to help streamline the data submission process for GPs. Submission via the excel template will continue to be an option for GPs.
We invite technology platforms that would like to connect to the EDCI API to reach out to email@example.com for requests to connect to the EDCI.
To assist you in communicating with your key stakeholders we’ve created an Overview Deck that provides context on the initiative, details on our progress to date, membership options, and key learnings.