Shareholders Press Companies To Disclose More
About Political Spending.
"As regulators wrestle with whether to force
companies to disclose more about their political
spending, an increasing number of shareholders are
taking matters into their own hands, thrusting the
issue before boards of directors at companies across
the country. The number of shareholder proposals
demanding more transparency in political spending
has more than doubled since 2010, jumping from 61 to
128 this proxy season, according to the Sustainable
Investments Institute, a research group that tracks
It seems obvious to me and most ethical
investors that companies should disclose all political
contributions. Transparency of all spending should
be available to shareholders. Company boards and
officers should not be allowed to secretly support
their political favourites with company funds.
Shareholders press companies to disclose more about
political spending, by Dina ElBoghdady, May 17,
2013, Washington Post, USA.
European Responsible Investment Grown 19%
"Assets under management in European responsible
investment funds now total €237.9 billion (£201
billion) – a 19% increase since 2010 – according to
a survey by the Association of the Luxembourg Fund
Industry (ALFI). The European Responsible Investment
Fund Survey, published by accountancy giant KPMG on
behalf of ALFI, found that the proportion of
responsible investment assets compared to the total
had increased by 1.6%." In time, most of the
conventional fund industry will also move towards a
responsible-ethical investing approach. They will
realize that evaluating investments on an ESG basis
simply makes more money.
European responsible investment grown 19% since
2010, by Emma Websdale, May 16, 2013, Blue &
Green Tomorrow, UK.
Investor Group Proposes ESG Disclosure Rules.
"The Ceres-led Investor Network on Climate Risk has
proposed that companies listed on US and global
stock exchanges be required to include a series of
environmental, social and governance sustainability
disclosures in their annual financial filings."
It's good that CSR/SRI groups maintain their
pressure on regulatory authorities on this issue, as
regulators are less likely to make such changes
Investor Group Proposes ESG Disclosure Rules,
press release, May 13, 2013, Ceres, USA.
Has Sustainability Become A Risky Business?
"A new report released by Ernst & Young presents a
disconcerting paradox when it comes to corporate
sustainability efforts. While more companies are
concerned about increased risk and proximity of
natural resource shortages, corporate risk response
appears to be inadequate to address the scope and
scale of some of these challenges."
As in most human activities, it's only when a
crises hits that remedial and proactive action to
mitigate future problems are enacted. So, it's not
surprising to find companies poorly prepared to
address future material sustainability issues.
Has sustainability become a risky business? By
John Davies, May 7, 2013, GreenBiz, USA.
Five ESG Standards Will Awaken Capital
"Five concurrent ESG standards initiatives that are
in play in capital markets ... will lead to an ESG
mindset in lenders and investors. Following the
axiom that 'what interests capital markets
fascinates executives,' this will precipitate an ESG
mindset in company executives." Mr. Willard's
blog post from a few days ago is well worth reading
for all investors.
Five ESG Standards Will Awaken Capital Markets,
by Bob Willard, May 7, 2013,
Report: Half of U.S. Fracking Wells Are
Drilled In Highly Water-Stressed Regions.
"A report released last week maps the relationship
between water stress and the unconventional oil and
gas reserves that have pushed the boom, while
outlining actions energy companies can take to
improve resource management. Nearly half of the
wells drilled in the U.S. in recent years, 47
percent, are located in river basins with high or
extremely high risk of water stress, according to
the report from Ceres, a nonprofit that works with
investors, businesses and credit rating agencies to
identify environmental risks in business models."
Will the fracking boom be cut dry due to water
scarcities? It could happen.
Report: Half of U.S. Fracking Wells Are Drilled in
Highly Water-Stressed Regions, by Brett Walton,
May 10, 2013, Circle of Blue, USA.
Investor Attitudes, Investment Screen Use, And
Socially Responsible Investment Behavior.
"We find that four out of five components of the New
Ecological Paradigm (NEP) scale, a measure of basic
environmental attitudes, are associated with
specific attitudes towards environmentally
responsible investment. These specific attitudes in
turn are positively associated with SRI screen use,
and SRI screen use is positively associated with the
percentage of investors’ portfolio held in SRIs.
There is also a significant direct relationship
between specific environmentally responsible
investment attitudes and SRI holdings. Our results
suggest that there are complex, multi-dimensional
relationships between investor attitudes, SRI screen
use, and investment behavior."
Though these are unsurprising findings I
do believe this type of research is useful.
Investor Attitudes, Investment Screen Use, and
Socially Responsible Investment Behavior, by
William N. Dilla and Diane Joyce Janvrin (both of
Iowa State University - Department of Accounting and
Finance), Jon D. Perkins (Iowa State University),
and Robyn Raschke (University of Nevada, Las Vegas),
May 2, 2013, USA.
Phil Angelides Wins Joan Bavaria Award For
Promoting Sustainable Markets.
"Phil Angelides has been awarded the fifth-annual
Joan Bavaria Award for Building Sustainability into
the Capital Markets. The announcement was made
today, the first day of the annual Ceres Conference,
which is running May 1-2 at The Fairmont in San
Francisco, CA." Awards such as these help
spur interest in sustainable and ethical investing.
That's why I like to mention them.
Phil Angelides, a Leader in Shareholder Activism and
Green Investment, Wins the Joan Bavaria Award,
press release, May 3, 2013, Ceres, USA.
Global Women's Equity Fund A First For Canada.
"In a first for the Canadian investment landscape,
the Global Women’s Equity Fund announced today that
it is almost ready to launch.'This fund is great
for society, great for women and a unique concept
that didn’t exist here in Canada' said Chief
Marketing Officer Alexis Klein. The fund will invest
primarily in equity securities of companies that
have demonstrated their support of women’s causes
and are leaders in promoting gender equality in the
workplace." This fund will serve an interesting
niche. It's already known that where women are well
represented on company boards, the boards function
better and the companies have relatively higher
earnings. I wish the find sincere best wishes.
Global Womens Equity Fund a first for Canada, by
Sucheta Rajagopal, May 2, 2013, SRI Monitor, Canada.
Most Firms Don’t Report GHG Emissions, Report
"Only 37 percent of the world’s largest companies
report their greenhouse gas emissions fully and
correctly, according to research from the
Environmental Investment Organisation." Again,
not an unsurprising outcome. It's interesting to see
who does report though.
Most Firms Don’t Report GHG Emissions, Report Says,
press release, May 2, 2013, Environmental Leader,
FTSE Launches New Environmental Index.
"FTSE has unveiled the Environmental Technologies
Index (ET 100), which will assess companies
operating within environmental markets.
The ET 100 is the 21st index in the FTSE
Environmental Markets series and will include firms
involved in environmental technologies such as
renewable energy, water, energy efficiency, waste
management and pollution control." With yet
another new ESG related index, it's obvious that the
creators of these indices see a good market for
them--and therefore, investor interest.
FTSE launches new environmental index, by Ilaria
Bertini, May 2, 2013, Blue & Green Tomorrow, UK.
CSR Just PR Spin - Report.
"According to the 2013 UHNW Investor Changing
Attitudes and Behaviors study, these wealthy
individuals appear to be increasingly unlikely to
become socially responsible and instead invest
primarily for financial gain and not to make the
world a better place, according to new research from
the Spectrem Group."
The results of this survey--when you read them in
the linked article below--aren't unsurprising
really, when you consider how the questions and
responses are framed.
Again, I'm sure that if a question was framed,
such as, "Knowing that companies who are highly
rated on environmental, social and governance (ESG)
factors are more profitable and with relatively
higher stock prices, how likely are you to invest in
them?" The points in this question are factual and
would no doubt elicit a very high 'yes' score. How
questions are framed often determines the answer!
CSR Just PR Spin - Report, May 1, 2013, Pro Bono
India's BSE Launches Broad-Based Islamic
"May 1 (Reuters) - Mumbai's stock exchange (BSE) has
launched an Islamic equity index based on the
wide-measure S&P BSE 500 index, providing a new
benchmark for Islamic investors in one of the
world's largest stock exchanges." This index
could a real winner, especially in India's huge
India's BSE launches broad-based Islamic index,
by Bernardo Vizcaino, May 1, 2013, Reuters, India.
GISR Launches Principles For Rating The Raters.
"The nearly two years, a nonprofit called GISR — the
Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings — has
been working to create a standard for company-level
sustainability ratings. It is doing this, it says,
'to accelerate the integration of environmental,
social and governance (ESG) issues and indicators in
investment decision-making' by 'building a new
standard that equips investors, companies and other
stakeholders with the tools to recognize true
excellence in corporate sustainability.' That is, to
get Wall Street and its counterparts around the
world singing from the same hymnal on
This is a great step forward. With this new
standard investors will be able to compare 'apples
with apples.' Let's hope it's adopted soon!
GISR launches principles for rating the raters,
by Joel Makower, April 19, 2013, GreenBiz, USA.
Only 1.4% of S&P Companies Have Fully
"American Electric Power, Clorox, Dow Chemical,
Eaton, Ingersoll Rand, Pfizer and Southwest Airlines
are the only companies in the S&P 500 — just 1.4
percent of the total — with fully integrated annual
financial and sustainability reports, according to a
study from the IRRC Institute and the Sustainable
Investments Institute (Si2)." These are early
days yet for integrated reporting--the combining of
financial/management/CSR/ESG reports--in one annual
report. However, it probably won't be too long
before many more companies adopt it.
Only 1.4% of S&P Companies Have Fully Integrated
Reporting, April 29, 2013, Environmental Leader,
Infy, HCL Tech, Wipro Among The Greenest In
"Sixty-one per cent of the companies in the five
BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and
South Africa - do not publicly disclose their carbon
emission details, according to a survey by
Environmental Investment Organisation (EIO), a
UK-based climate change and finance think tank. In
the EIO survey, three Indian companies - Infosys
(fourth), HCL Technologies (fifth) and Wipro (sixth)
- have emerged among the top 10 companies with least
emissions. This is part of a ranking of the 300
largest companies in the BRICS region, taking into
account greenhouse gas emissions and transparency
This article describes how companies are doing in
the BRICS countries with regard to sustainability.
useful read of ethical investors desiring to invest
in emerging markets.
Infy, HCL Tech, Wipro among the greenest in BRICS,
by Shine Jacob, April 29, 2013, Business Standard,
Thomson Reuters Launches Corporate
"Thomson Reuters, the world's leading source of
intelligent information for businesses and
professionals, today announced the launch of a new
family of environmental, social and corporate
governance (ESG) indices. The Thomson Reuters
Corporate Responsibility Indices were developed
jointly with S-Network Global Indexes, a New York
based specialist index design firm, as an objective
and transparent, rules-based benchmarking solution
for measuring ESG performance. The announcement of
the launch of the indices was made today at the CSR
Investing Summit in New York." Obviously, the
proliferation of these indices must indicate to the
wider investing public that ESG factors do matter
and that money can be made with them.
Thomson Reuters Launches Corporate Responsibility
Indices, press release, April 24, 2013, Thomson
Two US polls Contradict Independent Research
On Sustainable Investment.
"Both articles appear under headlines that perhaps
reflect the bias of the publisher, with results that
may contain sample bias, based on who was contacted
and who responded. Blue & Green Tomorrow probed
Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner on this. When
contacted, Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner didn’t
respond to an email asking for the wording of the
question that brought about the social
responsibility results. A representative did offer
to create a chart about one aspect of their survey,
but added that the raw data was not available."
Readers of this site might note my earlier
comments about Millionaire Corner's survey. That
comment stated, "How questions are framed plays a
great role in how they're answered. Had the
questions been framed around ESG rather than social
responsibility, I'm sure we would've seen a very
different--and more positive--response." I'm glad to
see that Blue & Green Tomorrow actually contacted
Millionaire Corner--but I'm saddened by the lack of
cooperation they got from them. It makes one wonder
how ethical Millionaire Corner is.
Two US polls contradict independent research on
sustainable investment, by Alex Blackburne,
April 18, 2013, Blue & Green Tomorrow, UK.
Top Industries Unprofitable If They Had To Pay
For Consumption Of Natural Capital.
"The total unpriced natural capital consumed by the
more than 1,000 'global primary production and
primary processing region-sectors' amounts to $7.3
trillion dollars a year — 13 percent of 2009 global
GDP... Of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by
environmental impacts, none would be profitable if
environmental costs were fully integrated."
I've suspected this for sometime. It's good to
finally get some real research on this topic. It
really provides us with some concrete idea as to the
real costs of our consumer society that one day will
have to be met! This report might provide some
ethical investors with a perspective of where they
might want to invest.
None of the world’s top industries would be
profitable if they paid for the natural capital they
use, by David Roberts, April 17, 2013, grist,
Q1 Global Green Investment Hits 4-Year Low Of
"Global economics, regulatory uncertainty and
falling PV and wind power costs are playing a role
in declining greentech investment figures."
Government policy uncertainty relating to green
investment support in the US and Germany play a
significant role influencing these lower numbers.
Q1 Global Green Investment Hits 4-Year Low of
$40.6B, by Jeff St. John, April 15, 2013, Greentechmedia.com, USA.
Online Course On The Fundamentals Of
Sustainable And Responsible Investment Launched By
The US SIF Foundation.
"Today, the US SIF Foundation launched the Center
for Sustainable Investment Education and the
Center’s inaugural online course, Fundamentals of
Sustainable and Responsible Investment. This is the
first online course on sustainable investment for
financial advisors and other investment
professionals to be launched in the United States."
This is a good step forward to encourage more
investment/financial advisors to offer socially
Online course on the Fundamentals of Sustainable and
Responsible Investment launched by the US SIF
Foundation, press release, April 9, 2013, US SIF
A New Breed Of Mutual Funds: The Activist
"In what mutual fund manager IA Clarington
Investments is calling the first of its kind in
Canada, retail investors are being offered a product
that “will invest in companies where an activist
investor has disclosed an intention to change or
influence the management or control of a company.
But the fund, which is just being launched and will
be managed by Larry Sarbit, a veteran of the
investment world who also manages the IA Clarington
Sarbit U.S. Equity Fund, will not itself be an
activist investor. Instead it will invest in those
companies that an activist investor has targeted.”
Though such funds aren't really ethical funds,
they do bear some relationship to them. Often,
unethical or badly governed companies are targeted
by others who believe they can do better. It'll be
interesting to see how such a fund performs.
IA Clarington Investments launches fund to invest in
activist investor targeted companies, by Barry
Critchley, Financial Post, Canada. (This article,
dated a month ago, just came to my attention,
courtesy of Ken Kivenko.)
New Research Report Reveals Corporate Social
Responsibility Trends In Mid-sized Companies.
"Two-thirds of mid-sized companies are seeking to
either enhance or establish their CSR programs to do
business with a purpose. About 60 percent of
mid-sized companies focus their CSR efforts on
education, demonstrating companies' dedication to
people-focused initiatives that cater to young
people and the development of the workforce of the
future." The great thing about mid-sized
companies is that they grow out of their communities
and hence have a deeper attachment to those
New Research Report Reveals Corporate Social
Responsibility Trends in Mid-sized Companies,
press release, April 10, 2013, Business4Better
For UK Ethical Investors, Blue&Green Tomorrow
Has Created A Guide to Ethical Financial Advice
"Welcome to Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Ethical
Financial Advice 2013. Here, you’ll find all the
information you need on where to find a specialist
ethical financial adviser near you. Profiling
members of the Ethical Investment Association (EIA),
as well as looking into the history of financial
advice more generally, after reading the guide you
will be able to make a more informed decision about
whether such an ethical adviser is most appropriate
for you." It's a great guide, particularly for
novice UK investors, interested in looking into
Introducing: The Guide to Ethical Financial Advice
2013, by Alex Blackburne, April 10, 2013,
Blue&Green Tomorrow, UK.
Survey Says American High Net Worth Investors
Not Big On SRI.
"Social responsibility doesn’t factor into the
investment decisions of a large majority of high net
worth investors, who say they invest purely to make
money, according to a newly published report from
Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. High net worth
investors give great weight to investment
fundamentals: Close to 95 percent considers the risk
associated with an investment. Nearly 90 percent are
concerned with diversification of investment
products and 81 percent worry about tax
implications, according to our new study, 2013 UHNW
Investor Changing Investor Attitudes and Behaviors.
Less than 20 percent factor in social
How questions are framed plays a great role in
how they're answered. Had the questions been framed
around ESG rather than social responsibility, I'm
sure we would've seen a very different--and more
High net worth not big socially responsible
investments, by Adriana Reyneri, April 9, 2013,
Spectrem's Millionaire Corner, USA.
Crisis Has Hit Companies’ Social
Responsibility, Poll Suggests.
"Some 74% of Brazilians, 65% of Chinese, 62% of
Indians, and 44% of Americans believe their
companies have taken corporate social responsibility
(CSR) more seriously over the past decade... 39% of
Europeans believe that companies pay less attention
to their influence on society than they did 10 years
ago, with 40% saying they pay more attention,
putting Europe at the bottom of the international
league table." This probably also reflects
the fact that developed country consumers are rating
most of their institutions very poorly these days.
Crisis has hit companies’ social responsibility,
poll suggests, by Marc Hall, April 5, 2013,
Transparent Investment Policies Can Boost
"Charity behaviour and investment transparency can
positively influence potential and current donors,
according to research by microfinance provider
Oikocredit. Its study found that 48% of people
donating to charity were more likely to donate to
ones that made their investment goals clear.
It also showed that members of the public were
influenced stronger by a charity’s investment
practices than its advertising." It has always
amazed me how many charities allow their fund
managers to invest in companies whose activities run
afoul of the charities' own goals.
Transparent investment policies can boost charity
donations, by Emma Websdale, April 5, 2013, Blue
& Green, UK.
Twenty Years On, Corporate Sustainability
"After 20 years of rating corporate sustainability
efforts, German-based oekom research has found that
global giants have not been doing nearly enough in
their commitments to sustainability. In its most
recent annual report, oekom found that only one in
six -- 16.7 percent -- of the companies rated has a
"good" level of commitment."
It's not surprising that most companies are
'minimalists' when it comes to encompassing
sustainability. However, how much longer they can
remain lazy about sustainability remains a question
as stock markets, stakeholders and governments
become increasingly involved in promoting it.
Twenty years on, corporate sustainability still
lacking, by Robert Kropp, April 3, 2013,
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