Tag: Sustainable Business

Momentum Grows for Gender Lens Investing

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas, Alison Pyott, and Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile, Veris Wealth Partners

In the world of Sustainable and Impact Investing, few ideas have captured the imagination as quickly as Gender Lens Investing (“GLI”).

In just the past few years, the number of Gender Lens solutions has grown rapidly. The premise of this approach is that every investment has a gender dimension and that understanding it uncovers both overlooked opportunities and hidden risks. GLI solutions are about investing for gender balance, inclusion and equity. GL investors are betting that all of society – both women and men alike – will reap social and economic dividends from women’s equality.

Equally important is the passion this topic has generated among people interested in aligning their wealth with values. This also bodes well for the creation of new products and solutions, as we are already seeing.

Growing AUM

GLI assets under management (AUM) in public market equities and debt have grown fivefold since 2014 to $561 million as of mid-year 2016, according to an analysis by Veris Wealth Partners and Women Effect.

The accelerated growth is the result of an increased number of GLI solutions being offered by money managers, along with demand from individual and institutional investors to place capital in public market securities that directly benefit women and girls.

To be sure, the entire field of Gender Lens Investing is still in its infancy and represents just a fraction of the assets in Impact and Sustainable Investing, but the growth is very promising.

Our analysis found as of February 28, 2017, there are 16 publicly traded GLI solutions explicitly asserting a gender mandate, up from nine as of September 30, 2014. Three of the newest opportunities target non-U.S. investors, including those in Canada and select European and Asian countries.

More than half of the growth in assets under management has been in the Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE) sponsored by State Street Global Advisors. The ETF was launched in March 2016 and was seeded with $250 million from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS).

GLI Defined

To fully appreciate the potential of Gender Lens Investing, it’s useful to define it.

A Gender Lens investment focuses on companies and initiatives supporting: 1) women’s leadership, 2) women’s access to capital, 3) products and services beneficial to women and girls, 4) workplace equity, and 5) related shareholder engagement and policy work.

Investments that satisfy one or more of these criteria are presumed to deliver greater impact to women and girls, and ultimately society as a whole – including men and boys.

Why Gender Lens Investing Is So Powerful

The evidence supporting Gender Lens Investing continues to grow each day. Research demonstrates the compelling business case for gender inclusiveness. Consider the following:

• Fortune 500 companies with three or more corporate directors who are women (in at least four out of five years) outperformed those with zero women directors (in at least four out of five years) by 84 percent on return on sales (ROS), 60 percent on return on invested capital (ROIC), and 46 percent on return on equity (ROE). Yet, as of June 30, 2016, women held only 20.2 percent of board seats at S&P 500 companies, while 3 percent of those companies (for a total of 15) had no women at all on their boards.

• The quality of a company’s reported earnings is positively correlated with greater gender diversity in senior management.

• Microfinance institutions (MFIs) with more women clients have lower write-offs and lower credit-loss provisions, confirming the common belief that women in general are a better credit risk for MFIs.

• Venture-backed companies in Silicon Valley run by women had annual revenues that were 12 percent higher than those run by men. These companies also used an average of one-third less committed capital, and had lower failure rates than those led by men, a 2009 study found.

Success Stories

The data backs the emerging value proposition of Gender Lens Investing, as do the growing number of success stories.

There has been a notable increase in capital to women as a result of Gender Lens Investing. For example, in their 2016 impact reports, micro finance lender MicroVest stated that 62 percent of its clients were women, while agricultural investor Root Capital listed 44 percent of its clients as gender-inclusive businesses. In 2015, 53 percent of Northern California Community Loan Fund’s borrowers were women, while Coastal Enterprises, Inc. invested in 15 women-owned businesses.

 

Another illustrative example is American Water Works Company, a public company addressing gender equity in the utilities industry, a traditionally male dominated field. Led by women, the company is the largest American water and wastewater utility company, serving more than 15 million Americans and 1,600 communities in 45 states. Women comprise more than half of the board of directors, and 42 percent of the company’s executive officers are women. CEO Susan Story and CFO Linda Sullivan oversee more than 6,700 full-time employees and have incorporated diversity hiring goals throughout the business.

We believe there is much progress to be made in the coming years to produce deeper equity in solutions that focus on gender and race. The good news is that Gender Lens Investing is already making a real difference.

 

Article by Patricia Farrar-Rivas, CEO of Veris Wealth Partners (www.veriswp.com). Alison Pyott is a Partner and Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile is a Senior Wealth Manager at Veris Wealth Partners.

Featured Articles, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

ImpactAssets Releases Annual IA 50 Impact Investment Fund Showcase

Industry’s only free, searchable database of outstanding impact investing fund managers features firms that manage $10.6 billion in assets.

ImpactAssets has released its 2016 impact investing showcase, the ImpactAssets 50 (IA 50), a free online resource for investors and financial advisors. The sixth annual list provides a diversified overview of fund managers representing private debt and equity investments that deliver social and environmental impact as well as financial returns. Find the IA50 here- http://impactassets.org/ia50_new

Fund managers included in the IA 50 2016 manage an estimated $10.6 billion in assets devoted to creating measurable, positive impact. IA 50 users can sort and filter across a range of asset classes (debt, private equity and real estate), geographies, size of funds, themes and more.

An Impact Investment Showcase

“As impact investing continues to move from niche to mainstream, those new to the field – as well as impact veterans – appreciate the IA 50’s broad overview of innovative fund strategies,” said Jed Emerson, Chief Impact Strategist, ImpactAssets. “The IA 50 roster offers a great overview of innovative managers and diverse approaches to creating impact with investment capital.”

The IA 50 is the only free, public, searchable database of outstanding impact investing fund managers. This year’s showcase, which includes funds based in the United States, Africa, Europe and Latin America, highlights the increasingly diverse opportunities for investors to help create social value across the globe. The featured funds focus on issue areas including affordable housing and community development, alternative energy and climate change, education, media and natural resources and conservation.

 

The IA 50 Review Committee is chaired by Jed Emerson, Chief Impact Strategist of ImpactAssets. Jennifer Kenning, CEO and Co-Founder of Align Impact served as the Committee’s Senior Investment Advisor. Members include, Karl “Charly” Kleissner, Co-Founder of Toniic and KL Felicitas Foundation; Kathy Leonard, Senior Vice President, Investments and Senior Portfolio Manager for UBS; Deval Patrick, Managing Director of Bain Capital; Liesel Pritzker Simmons and Ian Simmons, Co-Founders of Blue Haven Initiative; and Matthew Weatherley-White, Managing Director of The CAPROCK Group.

Designed to Convert Investor Interest into Action

“The IA 50 was designed to help convert interest into action by showcasing funds with expert management and solid track records,” said Matthew Weatherly White, Managing Director, The CAPROCK Group. “Investors who have been watching from the sidelines and waiting for the field to mature will find no shortage of opportunities.”

“The depth, breadth and caliber of this year’s IA 50 applicants are testimony to the increased demand by investors for high impact solutions,” said Jennifer Kenning, CEO and Co-Founder, Align Impact.

ImpactAssets produces the IA 50, and has released 15 impact investing issue briefs to help both novice and experienced investors better understand the field and vet the opportunities that may best serve their goals.

 

About the IA 50

The IA 50 is not an index or investable platform and does not constitute an offering or recommend specific products. It is not a replacement for due diligence. In order to be considered for the IA 50 2016, fund managers needed to have at least $10 million in assets under management, more than 3 years of experience as a firm with impact investing, documented social and/or environmental impact and be available for U.S. investment. Find additional details on the selection process at- http://impactassets.org/publications_insights/impact50#selection

About ImpactAssets

ImpactAssets is a nonprofit financial services firm that increases the flow of capital into investments that deliver financial, social, and environmental returns. ImpactAssets’ donor advised fund (The Giving Fund), Impact Investment Notes, and field building initiatives enable philanthropists, other asset owners, and their wealth advisors to advance social or environmental change through investment. More information at- www.impactassets.org

Contact
Amy Bennett, Director of Marketing, ImpactAssets
Phone: (415) 370-4899 / Phone 2: (415) 370-4899
Email: abennett@impactassets.org

Additional Articles, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

HERproject at 10: Celebrating HERsuccess, Inspiring HERfuture

By Christine Svarer, Director, HERproject, BSR

Back on March 8, International Women’s Day 2017—we thought it was a good time to take stock of our collective progress toward gender equality. And such a moment of reflection is particularly relevant for HERproject (herproject.org) this year, as we are hitting a big milestone: It’s our 10th birthday! On our anniversary, we’re taking a moment to think about what we have achieved and what we have left to do.

The short answer is: We have come far and have much to be proud of. But we cannot (and will not) stop here.

HERproject originated from a piece of research in 2006 into the general and reproductive health of women workers in toy, garment, and electronics factories across six focus countries. The findings were clear: Women often lacked crucial information on health topics, including sexually transmitted infections, nutrition, and pregnancy. Factory managers were well aware that this lack of information—and lack of access to related services—increased absenteeism and reduced productivity, but they didn’t know what to do. And so, HERhealth (herproject.org/herhealth) was born to address this clear need for workplace programs on women’s health.

Since then, much has happened. HERhealth took root, grew rapidly, and spread to 12 countries. But we—as brands, suppliers, NGOs, funders, and HERproject staff—kept going. We realized that we could support women to make the most out of their income by addressing unmet needs around financial knowledge and access to services. We developed HERfinance (herproject.org/herfinance) to provide guidance on financial literacy, planning, budgeting, and savings. This would improve women and families’ resilience to economic shocks, while also helping shift cash payroll to digital wages and raising awareness of the advantages of formal financial services.

Over the course of the last 10 years, we are proud of what we have achieved through our collaboration. Among other things, data from our programs shows:

• A 50 percent increase in the number of women using family planning products

• A 23 percent increase in the number of women making decisions on what to do with their salaries

• 91 percent of both men and women stating that they saved a greater portion of their salaries to mitigate future shocks

While an important step, however, access to information and services does not in itself equal empowerment or equality for women workers. This will require a shift in perceptions around the value and roles of women. And so, to address the root causes of gender inequality, we have launched HERrespect (herproject.org/herrespect). This piece of the HERproject program creates a space to re-evaluate the norms and structures that underpin discrimination, reset the relationship between women workers and their (often male) managers, and tackle knottier issues around sexual harassment and violence against women in the workplace. This endeavor is not simple or easy, but the fact that brands, factories, and farms see the value in investing time, effort, and money in HERrespect is a great indicator of how far we’ve come.

Women’s empowerment is no longer a footnote at the bottom of the to-do list. Ten years on, we’re spending less time making the case on why to invest in women, and more on how to do it effectively. It’s why a decade of HERproject programs have brought together more than 50 global companies and more than 500 farms and factories to find solutions for women workers. Together, we firmly believe that the workplace can be a space for change, improvement, and opportunity for women—and that an empowered female workforce is critical for the long-term resilience of global supply chains.

Women’s empowerment has gained prominence on the international stage in recent years, such as the launch of the UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment’s first report in 2016 [1], which squarely emphasized the importance of business action for gender equality and the global benefits of women’s empowerment. This wider discussion (and action) is an important impetus for us to deepen and expand our work.

 

And yet, in all the talks of global supply chains and high-level panels, we might lose sight of the heart of HERproject. When I talk to women involved in HERproject, I am always struck by the incredible gamble they have taken and are taking. Many have left their villages and families to move to a busy and not always welcoming city, with the goal of working hard to provide a better future for themselves and—especially—for their families. That’s bold.

And when I sometimes get frustrated about the slow and incremental progress required to achieve equality and empowerment for women workers, the women we serve always keep an optimistic long-term view. When I asked Mossammat Moklesa Parvin, a HERhealth peer educator in Bangladesh, what her dreams were, she said she wants her daughter “to study well…I would like to see her as a doctor. Otherwise being a teacher is also good.” Or I think of Antara Akhter Arifa, a HERrespect Change Maker also working in Bangladesh, who wants to send her daughter “to a good college for a better education.” Just as they left their communities to build a better life for their families, they are participating in HERproject for the same reasons.

Throughout 2017 for our 10th anniversary, we’ll be “Celebrating HERsuccess and Inspiring HERfuture.” That’s the theme of our campaign. But when we talk about “HERfuture,” we’re talking less about the future of HERproject as a project, and more about someone like Parvin. It’s her future that matters, her future that is being improved through the collective commitments from businesses and all the participants in HERproject. Now, we need to ensure that she can make her future a reality.

 

Article by Christine Svarer, Director, HERproject, BSR

Christine leads BSR’s HERproject—our women’s empowerment workplace program that brings together global and local companies, business associations, and donors to support women in global supply chains through health, finance, and other curricula.

With more than 15 years working in international development, Christine has substantial global experience in women’s economic empowerment, private-sector development, financial inclusion, value chain development, enterpreneurship, cross-sector partnerships, and social enterprise.

Prior to BSR, Christine was the director of women’s economic empowerment at CARE International, leading the organization’s global work to support 30 million women and give them greater access to and control over economic resources and opportunities. Before that, Christine led CARE International’s work on private-sector development, focusing on inclusive business models and bottom-of-the-pyramid social enterprise development, and significantly expanding CARE’s strategic engagement with companies. Christine also previously worked on building leadership training programs for sustainable development at Lead International and for the United Nations Development Programme. She speaks English, Spanish and Danish.

Christine holds an M.S. in International Development and Business and a B.S. in International Business and Modern Languages, both from Copenhagen Business School. She also holds an Advanced Business Management degree from IESE Business School.

Article Note

[1] https://www.bsr.org/en/our-insights/blog-view/un-high-level-panel-on-womens-empowerment-and-bsr-herproject

Additional Articles, Sustainable Business

Dear Financial Services CEO: Where are the women?

By Kathleen McQuiggan, Senior Vice President, Global Women's Strategies, Pax World and Managing Director, Pax Ellevate Management, LLC

For an industry that prides itself on mastering risk management, finding value and uncovering arbitrage opportunities, I think the financial services sector is falling flat. Why? Because most firms are overlooking one of the biggest investment opportunities ever: women.

An overwhelming body of research supports the business case for gender equality. Companies with more women in leadership have higher returns on capital, greater innovation, increased productivity, and higher employee retention and satisfaction.[1]

Despite this, the 2016 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap revealed that it would take 170 years before we reach gender parity in the global workplace, and in financial services it could be significantly longer.[2] In fact, at the current pace of progress, women won’t even reach 30 percent of executive committee members in financial services companies until 2048.[3] That’s appalling.

For the small number of women that do succeed in our industry, it’s hardly a clear path to the executive suite. Consider my own professional story: As a veteran of the “mainstream” finance world, I was more than ready to pack my bags and get out in 2009. I didn’t look like the executives in the C-Suite or in the boardroom. I had lost my career sponsor, who had helped me navigate the perilous professional landscape at my firm. I certainly didn’t get up every day to be average, which is what they said I was. I felt trapped by the unconscious bias in the “thick layer in the middle” of management, which I have since found is not a unique experience – it’s a barrier for diversity and inclusion programs at many Wall Street firms.

In the end, I stuck it out and carved my own path. But many women don’t. Lots of talented women simply don’t want to work in an industry where a hard glass ceiling is looming ominously over their heads.

A Systemic Problem

Financial services firms are promoting proportionally more men at every level of the organization. Not surprisingly, female financial services executives are 20-30 percent more likely than men in the same industry to leave their employers at midcareer.[4] Really, can you blame them?

In recent years, we’ve seen a deluge of reports on the lack of women in leadership in financial services. The CFA Institute released a report last year highlighting that women are underrepresented in the investment profession and acknowledged that it isn’t for lack of data proving that this lack of gender diversity is a competitive disadvantage.[5] Morningstar published a global report on women in fund management showing that women are underrepresented in fund manager ranks, and there’s been little improvement since the 2008 financial crisis.[6] In its U.S. research, Morningstar found that women manage less than 3 percent of mutual funds exclusively and less than 2 percent of the $12.6 trillion that is invested in U.S. open-end mutual fund assets.[7] Cerulli Associates reports that only 16 percent of financial advisors are women.[8]

Mercer recently reported, “Helping women thrive is an imperative for the financial services industry. Overly narrow criteria for advancement, outdated leadership models, inflexible work practices and bias in the talent management all contribute to the lack of diversity.”[9] They further found that greater gender diversity could positively impact culture, enhance connection to customers, embrace new leadership competencies and access a broader talent pool.[10] These all sound like things our industry is looking for, right? But only 14 percent of executive committee members in the financial services industry are women versus the average across all industries of 20 percent.[11] Why the disconnect?

It’s Time To Take Action

I believe that most people buy into the “accessing a broader talent pool” reason for focusing on gender diversity. But as the data shows, there is a still a long way to go before we have gender-balanced teams. Let’s review a few different ways you can start taking action.

Make Gender Diversity a Priority at Your Firm

McKinsey’s Women Matter 2016 report identifies three “game changers” that can help move gender equality forward:[12]

1. Persistence: Gender equality cannot be achieved overnight. Creating an environment that offers women more opportunities requires a long-term commitment, and it often takes time to see significant, measurable results. Be patient and be persistent.

2. CEO Commitment: If your CEO doesn’t believe gender equality should be a priority, it’s unlikely anyone else in the company will either. It needs to start at the top. McKinsey noted, “Companies that have successfully engrained gender diversity at the leadership level are twice as likely to place gender diversity among the top three priorities on their strategic agenda, to have strong support from the CEO and management, and to integrate gender diversity at all levels of the organization.”10

3. Holistic Transformation Programs: Identify gender diversity champions and empower them to communicate gender diversity policies and processes to their teams. The most successful programs permeate all levels of an organization.

Invest with a Gender Lens

The number of products that invest with a gender lens is rapidly growing, making it easier than ever to send a message to companies, through your investments, that women’s leadership is valuable and that gender equality is critical to business success. You can make an impact by investing in companies that are part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Options include the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, State Street’s SHE ETF, and gender lens fixed-income strategies from Community Capital and Breckenridge Capital. If you are interested in microfinance lending, Root Capital offers a women in agriculture note, Calvert Foundation has a gender equity initiative, and Self Help Credit Union offers a Women and Children CD. Gender lens products can easily be a part of anyone’s portfolio.

Large mainstream financial firms are starting to pay attention. In fact, Morgan Stanley recently introduced a Gender Lens Toolkit for Investors and stated that “gender diversity as a financial consideration is accelerating.”[13]

Better Serve Female Clients

United Capital’s report “What You’re Really Thinking: Understanding The Financial Lives Of Women,” highlights another area where our industry is falling short: Over 70 percent of women surveyed said they are “most dissatisfied” with the financial services industry over any other industry and, as a result, are less likely than men to have a financial advisor.[14] The study also indicates that women are likely to change financial advisors if their spouse dies.[15] What can financial services firms do?

• Don’t just sell products. Women investors are looking for comprehensive financial plans that help them achieve their goals. Keep in mind that women have unique circumstances that need to be considered when developing a financial plan, including living longer, the wage gap and higher healthcare costs in retirement.

• Help them make an impact. The Center for Talent Innovation’s global study of high net worth women found that 90 percent of women surveyed want to make a positive impact on society and 77 percent want to invest in companies with diversity in leadership.[16] Talk to your female clients about solutions that offer financial returns AND impact.

• Cut the jargon and add more transparency. Don’t try to prove your expertise by spending most your client meetings talking – listen more and talk less. Also, cut back on the acronyms and the inside-baseball terminology. Women want more transparency on fees and want to understand the value that you are offering them as an advisor.

It can seem daunting to move towards gender equality. Is it worth it? YES. Remember this is about the future of your company. It’s about your talent pipeline. Your clients. Your bottom line. Women are an opportunity – and continuing to ignore the value we bring to the C-suite, the trading floor and the boardroom is an unnecessary risk.

You should consider a fund’s investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing. For this and other information, call 800.767.1729 or visit www.paxworld.com for a fund prospectus and read it carefully before investing.

 

RISKS: Equity investments are subject to market fluctuations, the fund’s share price can fall because of weakness in the broad market, a particular industry, or specific holdings. The Fund does not take defensive positions in declining markets. The Fund’s performance would likely be adversely affected by a decline in the Index. Investments in emerging markets and non-U.S. securities are generally less liquid and less efficient than investments in developed markets and are subject to additional risks, such as risks of adverse governmental regulation, intervention and political developments. There is no guarantee that the objective will be met and diversification does not eliminate risk.

Distributed by ALPS Distributors, Inc. Kathleen McQuiggan is a registered representative of ALPS Distributors, Inc.

Pax Funds are distributed by ALPS Distributors, Inc. ALPS Distributors, Inc. is not affiliated with any of the companies referenced in this article.

 

Article by Kathleen McQuiggan, Senior Vice President, Global Women’s Strategies, Pax World Management LLC; Mng. Director, Pax Ellevate Mgmt. LLC

An advocate for investing in women, Kathleen is a 25+ year veteran of the financial services industry who has dedicated much of her career to increasing the industry’s understanding of and responsiveness to the financial planning needs of women. At Pax World and Pax Ellevate, Kathleen leads initiatives related to gender diversity and women’s leadership, and oversees the firm’s broader contributions to thought leadership related to women and sustainable investing and to gender equality as an investment concept. In 2015, Kathleen was named to InvestmentNews’ inaugural Women to Watch list, which honors female financial advisors and industry executives who are distinguished leaders at their firms. Prior to her current role, Kathleen was President of Catalina Leadership, a strategic advisory organization she launched that focused on investing in women, and was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 13 years.

Kathleen McQuiggan is a registered representative of ALPS Distributors, Inc.

You should consider Pax World Funds’ investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing. For this and other important information, please obtain a fund prospectus by calling 800.767.1729 or visiting www.paxworld.com. Please read it carefully before investing. Copyright © 2015 Pax World Management LLC. All rights reserved. Distributed by ALPS Distributors, Inc.

 

ARTICLE NOTES:

[2] http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2016/

[3] Oliver Wyman, Women in Financial Services, 2016.

[4] https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/gender-diversity-financial-services-industry-report.html

[5] https://www.cfainstitute.org/learning/future/Documents/gender_diversity_report.pdf ?

[6] http://corporate1.morningstar.com/ResearchArticle.aspx?documentId=782040 ?

[7] http://corporate.morningstar.com/US/documents/ResearchPapers/Fund-Managers-by-Gender.pdf

[8] http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2017/01/18/only-16-of-advisors-are-women-cerulli ?

[9] https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/gender-diversity-financial-services-industry-report.html

[10] https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/gender-diversity-financial-services-industry-report.html

[11] https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/gender-diversity-financial-services-industry-report.html

[12] McKinsey & Company, “Women Matter 2016,” December 2016.

[13] http://www.morganstanley.com/pub/content/dam/msdotcom/ideas/gender-diversity-toolkit/Gender-Diversity-Investing-Primer.pdf

[14] United Capital Financial Life Management, “What You’re Really Thinking: Understanding the Financial Lives of Women,” 2016.

[15] http://www.wealthmanagement.com/industry/everything-financial-services-industry-knows-about-women-wrong

[16] http://www.talentinnovation.org/_private/assets/HarnessingThePowerOfThePurse_ExecSumm-CTI-CONFIDENTIAL.pdf

Featured Articles, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Building a Career in Impact Investing

By Jenn Pryce, President and CEO, Calvert Foundation

>> Back to April 2017

What do an artificial heart, the theater, and Gabon all have in common? From where you’re sitting, probably not much. For me, however, they are key facets of my life that have led me to a career in impact investing.

Years ago when I was an undergraduate, a team and I were assigned to construct an artificial heart. This heart that we built was intended to test a new piece of medical technology, a hemofoil valve. The valve, we found, held significant promise of reducing the development of fatal blood clots. The technology was pretty straightforward to me, however the questions following the test were not. Who now gets access to this valve? Only those who can pay the price? Only those who are younger, healthier, and have a possibly longer life to live? The discussions exposed me to the world of inequality that we live in – a world in which not everyone has equal access to technology, medicine, and opportunities more broadly.

After graduation I joined the Peace Corp in search of a new adventure and greater exposure to the world. I ended up working in Gabon, where I taught math and English to middle school-aged students. I lived in a small, rural village, of about 100 people, that had no access to electricity or running water. Despite these challenges, the village was able to support and care for each other. It was clear that their survival was very much dependent on their ability to come together as a community. I was impressed by their ability to work as a group, acknowledging and being respectful of each other’s and each of their own interdependence on one another. I realized, that not just here in this small village in Gabon, but in larger, towns, cities, countries, even the whole world, we all operate, fail, and succeed as interdependent communities.

When I returned from Gabon I made the decision to focus on finance. My experiences abroad alongside my education had led me to the thinking that capital equates to power, and is a key determinant of capability for individuals, businesses, and communities. Although now I know that finance is only one piece of the pie of life, I still maintain the important role that it plays.

For several years my career followed this track. I got my MBA from Columbia University and worked at a number of large financial institutions, including Neuberger Berman and Morgan Stanley. Over time, though, I felt that my job was not addressing the issues and the values that were important to me – the ones that I learned from my time in Gabon, and building that artificial heart. I didn’t know what I wanted to do next, but I knew I wanted to do something else. So I took a risk and quit my job.

At the time, I was living in New York City, and the opportunities were endless. A local theater that I was a fan of, The Public Theater, had an opening for a volunteer, and I jumped on it. The Public was special to me because of the values it held. Its founder, Joseph Papp, believed that art should be accessible to everyone, regardless of wealth – and this message very much resonated with me and my (artificial) heart.

Like many small, creative institutions, The Public found itself in some financial peril. It was upsetting to see an institution that was so impactful on the community struggle as much as it did. I didn’t understand how such an asset was being undervalued.

I did some research, and found an organization that valued the arts from a financial perspective, called Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF). Back then, they were one of the few community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that viewed the arts as investable and valuable commodities in communities. I soon joined the NFF team and dived into the world of community investing.

At the time, the term “impact investing” had yet to be coined. CDFIs however, as established institutions, had been working to provide credit and financial services to underserved markets and communities since the early 1990s. I found that the work that NFF was doing, and other CDFIs, was incredibly valuable – in one way, because they were driving capital to much needed community services, but in another way, because they were also receiving interest from the loans they were making.

Elsewhere in the world, other investors and financial institutions were recognizing this type of double-bottom line opportunity. An opportunity that soon merited its own name – impact investing – and its own space in the investing world.

Through my work at NFF, I came across Calvert Foundation, who had invested in NFF and several other CDFIs. Calvert Foundation, through the Community Investment Note, provided investors the opportunity to actually invest in CDFIs, and benefit from both the financial and social returns that they generated.

The opportunity to work with the investors that were financing CDFI work, and to help grow the amount of investment that was going into CDFI work, was very appealing to me. I later joined Calvert Foundation, only to build my way up to become CEO.

Today I spend a lot of my time explaining what impact investing is and why it is so important. When I meet with a prospective investor, I think back to the artificial heart, and explain how impact investing provides increased opportunities to those who are often underserved. When I’m speaking at an event with large financial institutions, I think about the village in Gabon, and remind the audience that it is only by working together that we can leverage the impact of our investments. When I’m making decisions on the types of organizations we invest in, I think of The Public Theater, and tell my team that it is our mission to finance organizations that are actively making a positive difference in their communities.

Other people, in their own ways, have come to the similar conclusions that I have made from my collected experiences. I have the benefit of working with these people every day, on the Calvert Foundation team, and with the thousands of people who have chosen to invest with us. The Community Investment Note is now more accessible than ever before, available online or through brokerage firms, starting from $20. Anyone who cares about equality, community, opportunity, and finance as a force for good, can make a difference with their investments.

The capital raised through the Note goes to support community organizations, like The Public Theater, and many others sectors such as health, education, small business, affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, and climate change solutions. In my time at Calvert Foundation, we’ve also launched new initiatives that focus our investments on important issues, such as support services for the aging and gender equality.

In the past few years it has been particularly exciting to see our women’s empowerment initiative, Women Investing in Women (WIN-WIN), grow in popularity. This issue that has always been important to me, has also become incredibly important to investors. Now it is proven that investing in women and girls can generate sustainable returns, in the economy and in society. Working in impact investing has enabled me to sit at the forefront of this shift in perspective, and help drive it forward. Today we have raised over $30 million in investments targeted at WIN-WIN, and we continue to move that capital to organizations empowering women and girls around the world.

It has been quite the journey so far, and I know it is far from over. The lessons I’ve learned have taught me that as you grow and establish values in life, they do not have to be sacrificed in the work that you do or in the ways you spend and allocate your money. That is precisely what impact investing is all about, and it is something that we can all be a part of.

 

Article by Jennifer Pryce, who brings nearly 20 years of finance and community development work to her role as the President and CEO of Calvert Foundation (www.calvertfoundation.org).

Since arriving at Calvert Foundation in 2009, Jenn has risen from the position of U.S. Portfolio Manager to Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, then Chief Strategy Officer and now President and CEO. In her role as Chief Strategy Officer, she led the organization’s Strategic Initiatives team and its work on raising capital, developing new products and initiatives and marketing and communications. Jenn has also overseen Calvert Foundation’s wholly owned Community Investment Partners subsidiary, which offers fund and asset management services for institutional clients.

Jenn’s teams have anchored their work around the development of initiatives that combine a social issue with the power of impact investing, such as the Women Investing in Women Initiative (WIN-WIN). WIN-WIN was launched by the Strategic Initiatives team under Jenn’s leadership.

Prior to Calvert Foundation, Jenn worked with Nonprofit Finance Fund as the Director of the Washington Metro Area office. She has also held positions at Wall Street firms, working at Neuberger & Berman as an equity research analyst and Morgan Stanley’s London office in the Investment Banking division. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Gabon, Africa and also worked at the Public Theater in New York City.

Jennifer received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Union College and a MBA from Columbia University. She serves on the Boards of Hitachi Foundation and Impact Assets.

Featured Articles, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Proxy Season 2017 to Highlight Big Gaps Between Investor Expectations and New Administration Goals

Post-Election Proxy Season Sees Big Boost in Requests on Diversity and Equal Pay, But Climate Change and Corporate Political Transparency Still Top the Agenda

With a new administration in the White House and major national policy shifts underway, shareholder proponents are focused on preserving key gains they have won in their shareholder resolutions this spring. Investors will consider a near-record number of proposals filed on environmental, social and sustainable governance (ESG) issues for consideration at corporate annual meetings. Proxy Preview 2017, released in early March by As You Sow, the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2), and Proxy Impact, lists the specific shareholder resolutions filed this year and lays out major themes, including corporate political influence, climate change and economic inequality.

Available online at www.proxypreview.org – the report concludes:

• Political Spending: As government responsibility for key issues like health care and environmental protection is being kicked from Washington to state capitols, shareholders want companies to disclose what they spend to influence government at all levels — before and after elections in lobbying. Close to 100 resolutions ask about both subjects, with more on lobbying.

• Climate Change and Energy: Big investors remain focused on climate risk and how their companies will respond, and they want companies to say more about their strategies, including efforts to curb methane leaks. This critical issue is also woven throughout upcoming annual meeting agendas with other resolutions on sustainability reporting, executive compensation and board oversight and composition (separately covered in the report).

• Gender Diversity and Equal Pay: Resolutions seek equal employment opportunity — and pay equity — for women, minorities and others on the bottom rungs at leading U.S. companies, with a surge in some 40 proposals which emphasize the financial sector. Shareholders also continue to press for a variety of non-discrimination policies that already are de rigueur in corporate America.

As You Sow CEO Andrew Behar said: “The key is in the markets. Coal is not going to make a comeback from magical thinking when renewables offer a cheaper, cleaner way to produce electricity. Investors looking at corporate underperformance are still going to look at egregiously high CEO pay with skepticism because they want returns. And corporate sustainability leaders are not interested in becoming laggards. The best managers will continue to work with shareholders to make progress on ESG issues.”

Michael Passoff, CEO, Proxy Impact and co-author of Proxy Preview 2017, said: “Despite the divisive political climate, shareholders still expect their companies to focus on sustainable business practices. The Trump Administration may not believe in climate change, but it is happening and shareholders want to know how their company is preparing for it. Congress’ deregulation of environmental and safety safeguards does nothing to actually eliminate those risks to the public or investors, and will inevitably result in more risky behavior by some companies.”

Heidi Welsh, executive director of Si2 and co-author of Proxy Preview 2017, said: “The big focus on lobbying continues, with investors asking for more disclosure of state corporate influence spending. Since companies voluntarily disclose almost nothing about this spending and major public policy change is coming in the states, these are key questions of broad public interest.”

Other key Proxy Preview 2017 report findings include the following:

• Shareholders have filed far more resolutions in 2017 concerned solely with environmental and social issues at U.S. companies than at this point last year — a total of 430, up from 370 in 2015.

• A total of 341 pending shareholder resolutions are covered in this report, alongside 41 omitted after challenge at the SEC and 61 withdrawn by proponents — often after company accords. The SEC still has to decide on 52 challenged proposals and more omissions are likely.

• Nearly 30 proposals either ask companies to adopt board diversity policies or to report on them — the highest number of the decade. Small-cap Midwestern industrial companies are a new set of targets for the UAW Retirees’ Medical Benefits Trust, a longtime proponent of board diversity.

• New this year are resolutions about indigenous peoples’ rights, inspired by the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that was cancelled by President Obama and now about to start operating given President Trump’s approval of the project. New resolutions at banks ask about their related project finance policies; at oil and gas companies, proponents want more information about projects on indigenous peoples’ lands. All the banks have SEC challenges that have yet to be decided.

 

About the Report Authors:

As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. www.asyousow.org

Proxy Impact provides proxy voting and shareholder engagement services that promote sustainable and responsible business practices. www.proxyimpact.com

The Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2) provides impartial analysis to help institutions make informed, independent choices on social and environmental shareholder proposals. It also conducts related, in-depth research on key corporate sustainability topics. www.siinstitute.org

Contact: Taraneh Arhamsadr, (510) 735-8157 or tarhamsadr@asyousow.org

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Corporate Social Responsibility Trends in 2017

By Tim McClimon, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, American Express and President, American Express Foundation

For the past six years, I’ve been predicting what trends will impact Corporate Social Responsibility in the coming year. Sometimes, I’m right; sometimes I’m less right.

Last year, I suggested the following:

• CSR will go from voluntary to required.
• Materiality is the new black.
• The [for-profit vs. not-for-profit] lines they are a-changing.
• The [CSR] bar keeps getting raised.
• Reports of CSR’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Not bad, and certainly better than many pollsters did last year!

But, given the recent Presidential election in the United States, the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, continuing turmoil in Europe and the Middle East, and an economy that has been good for some, but not for others, 2017 seems like a particularly difficult year to make predictions in.

But, here goes. My five CSR trends for 2017, in no particular order:

• Sustainability is the New Norm. With the possibility that President Trump will dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and that other governmental attempts to positively impact climate change will sputter, citizens will increasingly look to corporations to be the stewards of the environment. Customer, investor and employee pressures on company executives to voluntarily reduce their carbon footprints, and ensure that their products and services are environmentally friendly will grow in opposition to possible disillusion with government practices. While some will continue to think that climate change is a hoax, more companies will take up the mantle and tout their achievements. Sustainability is here to stay.

• Materiality is Still the New Black. A recent study by Ethical

Corporation found that 60 percent of respondents agreed that too much time is being spent on the CSR reporting process. Quite frankly, I was surprised it wasn’t higher. With the proliferation of watch dog groups, procurement surveys, disclosure projects and calls for transparency, it’s almost impossible for companies to keep up. So, figuring out those issues that are really relevant to your company’s operations and business, and focusing on tracking and reporting on those concerns, will continue to be a primary focus of CSR departments and companies in the coming year.

• Companies will be Expected to Lean into Advocacy Work. With possible sweeping changes in social programs and governmental subsidies in many countries, companies will increasingly be expected to take positions on social issues and to make their collective voices heard. Gone are the days that companies can hide from controversial issues in their markets. Someone is going to ask and everyone is going to watch. This new role for companies is fraught with difficulties and will surely prove a minefield for many. Companies should try and determine in advance what issues are relevant enough and important enough to weigh in on.

• Globalization Marches on. Despite worker backlash and unease over some trade alliances, the power of globalization is hard to stop and turn back. Companies continue to want to grow their businesses in new markets, and the search for talent knows no border. Increasingly, as companies expand and contract in and out of global markets, local issues will need to be addressed against the backdrop of global values and practices. Expect more focus on global company values as guideposts for local company action, and more business alliances to be formed in order to compete in the global marketplace.

• Engaged Employees Rule. Perhaps the biggest and most important asset of any company is its employees. Employees are brand ambassadors, community volunteers, sustainability champions, consumers, voters, and citizens. They are the heart and soul of every company, and the more engaged they are in the company’s mission and values, the better off the company and the communities where they live and work. So much has been written about this truism in the past few years that this almost goes without saying. But, companies that focus on the recruitment, retention and engagement of their employees will be those who succeed and successfully navigate the troubled waters ahead

So, those are my predictions for 2017. Stay tuned at various points along the way for more to be said on each of these trends. But, for now, here’s wishing you a happy, prosperous and sustainable new year!

 

ARTICLE BY: Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation and Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility, American Express Company. In this role, he directs all of the company’s global social responsibility, philanthropy and employee engagement programs. Prior to joining American Express, Mr. McClimon was Executive Director of Second Stage Theatre, and for many years he served as the Executive Director of the AT&T Foundation.

Source American Express CSR Now!

Additional Articles, Sustainable Business

The State of Green Business 2017

By Richard Mattison, Chief Executive Officer, Trucost

This article introduces the latest annual assessment of corporate sustainability produced in our partnership with GreenBiz.

 

Feature.1_inset_Richard2016 was undoubtedly a year of change. Aside from major political shifts (in the US and the UK), there were also significant shifts in climate action. The implications of the Paris Agreement at COP21 filtered through to both businesses and investors, leading to a number of breakthroughs in policy and behavior.

However, the fundamental fact is that we are still consuming natural capital — the limited stock of natural resources on which business and society depend for well-being, security and prosperity — at an alarming and unsustainable rate. Nearly half of the world’s 1,200 largest companies would be unprofitable if they had to pay their fair share of the $3.4 trillion environmental and social costs of their resource consumption and pollution in 2015.

The good news is that our State of Green Business Index — a review of corporate sustainability performance over the last five years shows — without a doubt that many companies and investors genuinely understand the fundamental importance of sustainable business and are taking action to reduce environmental impacts.

During 2016, the CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson (now US Secretary of State), pushed for a tax on carbon emissions, joining a growing chorus: So far, more than 1,200 companies have either set an internal price on carbon or committed to using one, according to the CDP. Setting an internal carbon price helps companies better understand future policy scenarios and informs the capital allocation process — for example, in decisions regarding investment in carbon-efficiency projects.

These insights should help companies prepare for business in an environmentally constrained world by guiding them towards low-carbon, resource efficient technologies and business models.

The Natural Capital Protocol was launched in 2016 to extend these benefits across other environmental and social costs not yet fully priced by the market. A growing number of companies are adopting this approach and putting “shadow prices” on a range of natural capital impacts and dependencies, from carbon and other pollutant impacts to water and other natural resource dependencies, to inform decisions and get ahead of the regulatory trend.

2016 was also a pivotal year for sustainable finance. Total assets invested that consider environmental issues have grown 77-fold since 2010 and now exceed $7.79 trillion in the United States. Investment focused on renewable energy and technology was more than $285.9 billion in 2015, and China recently announced that it will invest $361 billion in renewable energy by 2020. By then, renewables will make up half of all electricity generated in China. The growth of innovative financial instruments also accelerated, with the total value of the green bond market doubling in 2016 to $81 billion.

Investors are increasingly divesting from the fossil fuel industry. The latest thinking is that if climate policy is effective it is likely that many assets in industries reliant on fossil fuels could be impaired or worthless — known as “stranded assets.” Investors do not want to be exposed to the risk that equity holdings lose value as a result of action to tackle climate change. The amount of assets under management that investors have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies reached a record $5 trillion in 2016.

Last September’s G20 Summit, under the leadership of China, concluded that the adverse effects of climate change threaten economic resilience, growth and financial stability, and capital markets are best placed to finance the transition to the low-carbon economy, given the scale of investment required. The synthesis report called for accelerated integration of green finance into markets to finance a range of environmental initiatives, from pollution control to climate change mitigation. This was the first time that G20 Leaders referenced the importance of greening the financial system in the summit’s annual communiqué.

There are also positive signals in the key performance indicators of sustainable business among the world’s largest companies. Corporate carbon emissions are at a five-year low, down more than 10 percent since 2011. Water use is following a similar trend. Water pollution has fallen even more quickly, down more than 25 percent since 2013. Total waste generation is down 11 percent. Two thirds of U.S. companies and four-fifths of global companies now disclose data on their environmental impacts. Overall, the cost of natural capital impacts has fallen by more than 15 percent since 2013.

But it is important to reality-check these findings. Reductions in natural capital impacts have taken place alongside falls in corporate revenue, suggesting that decoupling economic growth from resource use and pollution remains challenging for most companies. Although more than half of companies have targets for reducing carbon emissions, they account for only a fraction of the annual reduction needed by 2050 to keep global temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius, as committed to under the Paris Agreement. Moreover, less than a quarter of companies are disclosing carbon emissions embedded in the goods and services they purchase and the capital investments they make — so-called scope 3 emissions — which account for around 90 percent of indirect emissions.

In December, the recommendations of the G20 Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure provided a clear signal to companies and investors to ramp up climate risk reporting. The international body, chaired by Michael Bloomberg and comprising senior figures from business and finance, states that climate change poses a serious risk to the global economy[1]. It recommends that all organizations, including companies and financial institutions, provide information about climate risk and opportunities in their approaches to governance, strategy, risk management, metrics and targets.

The recommendations further advise companies to integrate climate-risk management in forward-looking business strategies and financial planning, such as scenario analysis to align with government commitments to 2-degree Celsius energy transition pathways. Investors are advised to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each fund or investment.

The shifts in climate action are compelling. Companies will need to embed sustainability at the heart of business strategy to deliver shareholder value, while ensuring that their relationship with society is a positive one.

The challenge of 2017? To identify business models that decouple growth from resource use and pollution. Rigorous measurement and disclosure will be key.

Download the complete State of Green Business Report 2017 here: https://www.greenbiz.com/report/state-green-business-2017

 

Article Note:  [1] https://www.fsb-tcfd.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/TCFD-Recommendations-Report-A4-14-Dec-2016.pdf

Article by Richard Mattison, Chief Executive Officer, Trucost

Richard is CEO of Trucost Plc (www.trucost.com) and has advised various UN bodies and governments on environmental reporting and ecosystem services and has led ground-breaking projects including developing the world’s first Environmental Profit and Loss account for PUMA, valuing the environmental costs of the world’s 3,000 largest companies for the UN-led Principles for Responsible Investment, and producing the UK Government’s Environmental Reporting Guidelines for Business.

Richard is an honourary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Global Stranded Assets Advisory Council, advisor to The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) coalition, and has contributed to the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council.

Previously Richard held a number of senior positions as a strategy consultant with Mitchell Madison Group and began his career as a neuroscientist. Richard holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh.

Featured Articles, Sustainable Business

Top Sustainable Business Trends of 2017

By Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, GreenBiz

It’s hard to imagine a time more hopeful and horrifying for sustainable business. On the one hand are great achievements and milestones. The Paris Agreement on climate change was ratified in 2016, faster than any United Nations pact in history, a powerful affirmation of the importance the nations of the world attach to combating climate change. Companies continued to ratchet up their commitments and achievements on renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable supply chains, water and land stewardship, the circular economy and other aspects of a sustainable enterprise. Technology continued its inexorable march, accelerating solutions in energy, buildings, transportation, food and just about everywhere else.

And yet.

The indicators continue to be troubling. Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are unprecedented compared with the past 800,000 years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, even after accounting for natural fluctuations. Global temperatures continue to rise, and the 10 warmest years on record worldwide have occurred since 1998. Other metrics — on coastal flooding, heat-related deaths, wildfires, polar sea ice, biodiversity and more — continue to go in the wrong direction.

The cost to companies and economies continues to rise, too. Air pollution will cause 6 million to 9 million premature deaths annually and cost 1 percent of global GDP by 2060, according to a report [1] last year from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED). Meanwhile, more than 650 million people are living without access to an “improved” source of drinking water, according to The State of the World’s Water 2016 [2]. Diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation are themselves the second biggest child killer — 315,000 young lives extinguished annually worldwide.

In most regions of the world, market consequences from climate change are projected to be net-negative, stated another OECD report[3]. The macroeconomic costs from selected market impacts alone amount to between 1 and 3.3 percent of annual Gross Domestic Product by 2060. That year may sound a ways off, but it’s roughly the same time interval as the one between the end of the Vietnam War, in 1975, and today.

And that doesn’t factor in the economic consequences of the loss of natural capital, from crop pollination and pest control to biodiversity and flood protection, which companies rely on both directly and indirectly. All of which could further roil markets and the companies that operate therein.

The Paris Agreement provided hope that nearly 200 nations would work in concert toward mitigating many of those impacts. But the 2016 U.S. presidential election — and, to a lesser degree, the U.K.’s vote last year to leave the European Union — muddied the waters, promising to slow progress, perhaps significantly. As the ‘State of Green Business 2017’ report from GreenBiz and Trucost was being published, barely two weeks into the administration of President Donald Trump, there is much about future climate action and environmental protection that is unsettled and unsettling.

Companies and markets dislike uncertainty, of course, so the coming year or two may see head-snapping policy shifts as the public and private sector grapple with two seemingly unstoppable forces: the political momentum of an increasingly nationalist and protectionist world, and the wrath of a changing climate on a civilization ill-prepared to cope. Which force will dominate is anyone’s guess.

And yet.

Corporate innovation, boosted by technology’s rampant pace, is enabling radical new levels of efficiency in materials, energy, water and other resources. The Internet of Things — the interconnected world of tens of billions of objects that can talk to one another, and to us, and make real-time optimization decisions — is enabling buildings, vehicles, power grids, factories and many other things to do far more with fewer resources. Corporate clean power continues to ramp up, with prices ever dropping and efficiency steadily growing. Cities and regions are accelerating their quest to become greener and more resilient, luring corporations to relocate amid transit hubs and culture centers. All of which provide a powerful bulwark against those seeking to slow or reverse progress in sustainability.

And the leading edge of companies are embracing “net-positive” strategies, where buildings, factories and supply chains create more beneficial impacts than negative ones. Interface, the Atlanta-based carpet company and a trendsetter in sustainable business, unleashed a new set of visionary goals[4] last year, which included creating factories that function like the ecosystem they replace, providing such things as water storage and purification, carbon sequestration, nitrogen cycling, temperature cooling and wildlife habitat. The carpet company is starting this audacious journey with a single factory in Australia.

Net-positive buildings are beginning to sprout — a trend that seemed merely fanciful just a few short years ago. Today, the notion of buildings and campuses that generate more power than they use, or sequester more carbon than they emit, is within reach[5]. Meanwhile, net positive companies are on the near-term horizon.

The trend is as remarkable as it is inescapable: companies shifting from inadvertently negative impacts to deliberately positive ones.

Net-net, will the positives outweigh the negatives — in factories, economies, politics and all the rest — and do so at the scale and speed needed to address the planet’s greatest challenges? How much will proactive businesses counteract heel-dragging governments? Will market forces or ideologues rule the day?

These are among the questions to which we’ll seek answers during 2017, and likely beyond. Here, in no particular order, are 10 Trends we’ll be watching:

1) The Blockchain Supports Sustainability

2) Advanced Materials Adapt to a Circular World

3) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) Become a Business Strategy

4) Unlimited Water Becomes A Goal [see article on this Trend in this issue]

5) Corporate Clean Energy Grows Up

6) Environmental Performance Becomes a Fiduciary Responsibility

7) Companies Put Their Money Where Their Suppliers Are

8) Mobility Drives a New Transportation Paradigm

9) Sustainability Storytelling Adopts New Means and Memes

10) Resilience Becomes a Sustainability Strategy

See more in-depth information on all of these Trends by downloading the State of Green Business Report 2017 here- https://www.greenbiz.com/report/state-green-business-2017

 

Article Notes:

[1] https://www.oecd.org/env/the-economic-consequences-of-outdoor-air-pollution-9789264257474-en.htm

[2] http://www.wateraid.org/uk/what-we-do/policy-practice-and-advocacy/research-and-publications/view-publication?id=3f44e1ad-49a3-425f-a59b-b5f2c1145fd9

[3] http://www.oecd.org/environment/indicators-modelling-outlooks/the-economic-consequences-of-outdoor-air-pollution-9789264257474-en.htm

[4] https://www.greenbiz.com/article/inside-interfaces-bold-new-mission-achieve-climate-take-back

[5] https://www.greenbiz.com/article/5-companies-leading-charge-net-zero-building

 

Article by Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, GreenBiz www.greenbiz.com

Joel is an award-winning writer and strategist on corporate sustainability practices and clean technology who, over 25 years, has helped a wide range of companies align sustainability goals with business strategy. He is the bestselling author or co-author of more than a dozen books, including The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security and Sustainability in the 21st Century, and a sought-after speaker to companies and business groups around the world.

Energy & Climate, Featured Articles, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

The Clean Money Revolution: Billionaires of Love

By Joel Solomon, author and Chair of Renewal Funds

These Times

A profound political disruption has raised the stakes for clean money. It’s a watershed moment for progressive business and investing, and a major bump in the pathway from the old economy to a new one. We must double down to ensure a just, resilient future civilization.

Our Name is on Our Money

How does it represent our values and vision? How do we invest or spend it? What does it reveal about our ethics and morals? How much blood is on it? Do we own slaves? Poison babies? Start wars?

Is it really ok to have our names on that?

Assess Yourself

In my upcoming book The Clean Money Revolution, I urge investors to make rigorous personal assessments. Foremost is: “How much is enough?”

Making money is great for those who can. It drives a robust economy, but also deserves soul-searching considerations.

Identify how much money you need to own. Then focus your ingenuity on how much good you can do. The gold standard of the future is responsible use of ego and ambition. You can make money, and be responsible.

Ask questions. Demand better, cleaner products.

Align every dollar with your values and purpose. Plenty of money can be made on reinventing the economy to be cleaner, greener, and fairer. From energy, to buildings, transportation, clean water, food and soil, opportunities abound.

When We Have Enough

Infinitely “more” is a too common, perhaps corrupt, default answer. It’s lazy and irresponsible. If “more” is our sole goal, then we can rationalize every manner of making money, and defining success, strictly through the highest financial return.

We can neglect the ethics of owning money, who and what is damaged. We forget to answer why we need excess money, how we will use it, and for what. We give ourselves a pass card on the impact our money has on people and planet.

“More” makes sense when you struggle to feed your family.

But is there a prize for making huge piles of excess money? Like many substances, it can be toxic when overly concentrated and held too closely. When it flows with wisdom and intention, it can create vast ripples of good.

What about leaving the world more livable, healthy, and just?

Your Deathbed

Think back from your deathbed. What legacy do you want to leave? Isn’t it about MORE than money?

Transitioning to clean money is inspiring, satisfying, life-enhancing. It begins with moral clarity, then identification of values, meaning, and purpose. It creates a satisfying legacy. How much is that worth?

Your Money Biography

What do you most love? What moves your spirit? What will you leave to the future?

Money is extracted energy of planet and people. The Clean Money Revolution is about, we with the privilege, using that energy for the good of the whole, for the long term.

We are Ancestors of the Future

Our greatest fortune is to serve those unseen generations. Be a billionaire of good deeds, a billionaire of love.

 

Article by Joel Solomon. Joel’s new book The Clean Money Revolution: Reinvesting Power, Purpose, and Capitalism, co-authored with Tyee Bridge, will be released by New Society Publishers in May 2017. Pre-sales available on Amazon at- https://www.amazon.com/Clean-Money-Revolution-Reinventing-Capitalism/dp/0865718393

Joel Solomon Chairs Renewal Funds, a $98 million mission venture capital firm in Vancouver, Canada. His lifetime of investing in over 100 early stage companies has delivered above market returns and positive change. During the late 80’s in Nashville’s declining urban core, he co-founded Village Real Estate, Core Development, and Bongo Java Cafes. As Senior Advisor to RSF Social Finance in San Francisco, he co-leads Integrated Capital Fellows to empower a new wave of social change investing. Solomon is a founding member of the Social Venture Network, Business for Social Responsibility, Tides Canada, and is Board Chair of Hollyhock. He blogs at www.JoelSolomon.org

Energy & Climate, Featured Articles, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

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