Ethical Investing News/Commentaries
Commentaries by Ron
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Most US Companies Falling Short On
Sustainability, says Ceres.
"In the first major assessment of progress on a
unique Ceres Roadmap to corporate sustainability
released two years ago, Ceres and global research
and analysis firm Sustainalytics today released 'The
Road to 2020: Corporate Progress on the Ceres
Roadmap for Sustainability.' The findings - based on
an assessment of how 600 U.S. companies are
responding to environmental and social challenges
such as climate change, water scarcity and supply
chain conditions – show individual examples of
leadership but significant need for overall
The results are unsurprising. However,
as investors realize that companies with strong ESG/sustainability
programs outperform financially, companies will have
to cater to investor demands for a strong ESG/sustainability
New Ceres/Sustainalytics Report Shows Most U.S.
Companies Falling Short on Sustainability, press
release, April 27, 2012, Ceres, USA.
US Churches Increasingly Divesting Bank
- [COMMENTARY] "...religious congregations have withdrawn about $40
million nationwide from the country's largest banks,
including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells
Fargo and Citigroup, said Tim Lillienthal, lead
organizer with the PICO National Network, the
largest faith-based organizing network in the United
States." It's a movement that could grow. The
churches have many complaints against the banks
ranging from home foreclosure misdeeds to excessive
Growing divestment campaign among churches targets
biggest U.S. banks, by Dennis Sadowski, April
27, 2012, Catholic News Service, USA.
Walmart Investors Voice Deep Concerns Over
"Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate
Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of faith-based
and responsible investors that have been actively
engaging Walmart on social, environmental, and
governance issues are dismayed by recent reports in
the New York Times alleging systemic bribery and
corruption to facilitate the rapid expansion of
their retail operations in Mexico."
For a company that's trying to make it to the
forefront of CSR, if proven true, this could
seriously erode what little support the company
presently has among ethical investors.
Walmart Investors Voice Deep Concerns over Bribery
Allegations, press release, April 25, 2012, ICCR,
UK Investors With £1.5 Trillion Of Investments
Rally Against Excessive Pay.
"A coalition of pension funds and asset managers,
who together control more than £1.5 trillion of
investments, hits out at 'disproportionate' rises in
bonuses and calls for companies to 'claw back'
unwarranted payouts... [They include:]...
Allianz Global Investors... two Swedish state
pension funds with more than £40 billion in funds
under management together, the City group F&C Asset
Management, a clutch of ethical investment funds and
the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, whose
members control more than £100 billion in funds, and
the Church of England Pensions Board." Finally,
these groups are standing together to fight
excessive management compensation.
City funds prepare assault on excessive executive
pay, by John Bingham, April 23, 2012, The
2012 CSR Awards Given At Philippine Event.
"Thirteen companies from China, India, Philippines,
Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore were recognized
for their outstanding corporate social
responsibility initiatives programs and services at
the 4th Annual Global CSR Awards 2012 held in
conjunction with The Global CSR 2012 Summit held on
19th April 2012 at the Shangri-La hotel, Boracay,
Awards given mostly to Asian subsidiaries of
multi-nationals. It's great to see Asia getting
meaningfully engaged in CSR.
Global CSR Awards 2012 - Top Organisations from
China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and
Singapore Honoured, press release, April 21,
2012, Global CSR Summit 2012 Philippines,
Canada Promoting Board Diversity.
"The Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC)
announced today it is launching Canada’s first ever
database of diverse candidates for board of director
positions in Canada’s largest 500 organizations. The
new initiative, Diversity 50, supports the Council’s
mandate to increase representation of candidates who
reflect the diversity of the broader Canadian
For multinational companies, board diversity
should be a given so as to optimize corporate
performance in multi-lingual, multi-cultural
markets. Yet that is often not the case. This is a
good socially responsible initiative by Canada that
is also likely to benefit corporate performance.
Launches Canada-First Diversity 50 Database of Board
Candidates, press release, April 19, 2012,
Canadian Board Diversity Council, Canada.
Swiss Sustainable Investment Holdings
"Sustainable investment volumes in Switzerland
remaining steady at around 42 billion Swiss francs /
Institutional investors’ share of the market rising
/ Integration of sustainability into institutional
asset management gaining in significance / Active
engagement playing an increasingly important role."
Slowly, but surely, sustainable investing makes
Annual review shows sustainable investments in
Switzerland resilient despite difficult market
conditions, press release, April 18, 2012, by
onValues and the Swiss Sustainable Investment Forum,
FNG Switzerland, Switzerland.
'Say On Pay' Stockholder Vote Rebukes Citi
CEO's Pay Package.
"In a stinging rebuke, Citigroup shareholders
rebuffed on Tuesday the bank’s $15 million pay
package for its chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit,
marking the first time that stock owners have united
in opposition to outsized compensation at a
financial giant." Finally, it's happening! The
outsized compensation packages for financial
industry executives are being scrutinized
by stockholders as never before. This could be the
beginning of a trend that might influence the entire
financial industry. I hope so.
Citigroup’s Chief Rebuffed on Pay by Shareholders,
by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Nelson D. Schwartz,
April 17, 2012, The New York Times, USA.
Global Green Energy Investments Fall.
"Global investment in green energy fell sharply in
the first three months of 2012 as European financial
woes, upcoming U.S. elections and fears of declining
federal support fed a 'destabilizing uncertainty,' a
report unveiled Thursday finds. New financial
investment fell 28 percent from the prior quarter to
$27 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy
Finance, which called the first quarter 2012 tally
'the weakest since the depths of the financial
crisis' in early 2009." If oil prices continue
to climb, green energy investments could still
Global green-energy investment drops, by Ben
Geman, April 12, 2012, The Hill, USA.
UK Banks & Insurers Blacklist Cluster Bomb
"The Guardian has learned that major firms such as
Lloyds Banking Group (through its investment arm
Scottish Widows), Aviva, the UK's largest insurer,
and the Co-op have imposed a blanket ban on holding
shares in companies that make or supply cluster
munitions, purging them from nearly all their share
portfolios. Royal Bank of Scotland has banned all
new lending to the same companies, and is now
reviewing its defence industry shareholdings."
It seems that some financial institutions are
taking a higher ethical stance. Perhaps many more
will follow? Let's hope so. It's good news for
ethical investors and investments.
UK banks and insurers blacklist cluster bomb
manufacturers, by Severin Carrell, April 9,
2012, The Guardian, UK.
Why Businesses Aren't Trusted.
" ...trust appears to be increasing in value to our
clients' businesses at the same time as it is
becoming more elusive. Trust -- or the absence of it
-- is having an ever-greater impact on the things
that businesses care about such as such as brand
equity, customer loyalty and market share,
propensity for collaboration opportunities and the
attraction and retention of talent. Time and again,
when we look into what drives the success of our
clients' businesses, trust is at the heart of it.
And yet the corporate world as a whole continues to
suffer from a chronic trust deficit."
When societies and individuals within those
societies demonstrate caring attitudes towards each
other, trust can grow. When the rich grow richer at the expense of the less fortunate, distrust
grows. It is in the interests of the rich to
demonstrate they care for everyone's welfare. It
requires a change in consciousness.
Why businesses suffer from a trust gap, by Sam
Mountford, April 5, 2012, GreenBiz, USA.
HP, Intel & GE Create Fund To Boost
"A U.S. law requiring companies to disclose if they
source key minerals from conflict-torn areas has lit
a fire under businesses to trace their supply chains
and find conflict-free supplies. But with other
countries also pressuring companies to eliminate
conflict materials, there's more demand for
conflict-free minerals than supply." It's a
shame that it took a new US law for companies to get
behind this, but it's a good start. However, will
Chinese and Russian companies participate as well?
HP, Intel and GE start fund to boost conflict-free
minerals, by Jonathan Bardelline, April 4, 2012,
Social Investment Organizations To Produce
Global Ethical Investing Data.
"Sustainable investment membership organisations in
major markets have agreed to join forces to create a
trailblazing report on the global scope of
sustainable and responsible investment. For more
than a decade, these regional bodies have produced
research reports, generally on a biennial schedule,
on the trends in sustainable and responsible
investing within their own markets. The release of
this harmonized global 'Trends' report, the first
ever, is scheduled for December 2012."
I'm happy to see this. I hope too, that they'll
publish data in relation to global non-SR-ethical
investing equity and bond market assets. That way,
investors can assess exactly how large and
proportional are SR-ethical investing assets in
relation to the universe of stock and bond
Global collaboration on sustainable investment
advances as leadership of sustainable investment
organizations meet in London, press release, April 2, 2012, UKSIF, UK.
Eiris Says European Companies Lead, Americans
Lag, In ESG.
"UK and continental European companies have
outstripped their US and Asian counterparts in
taking a 'socially responsible' approach to their
business and reducing risk, according to findings
based on more than 2,500 FTSE global companies by
Eiris, the responsible investment research
specialist. A fifth of UK companies scored A (the
highest of five grades) based on environmental,
social and governance issues, followed by 12 per
cent of mainland European ones. But only 2 per cent
of US companies and 1 per cent of Asian ones made
the top grade in Eiris’s recently launched Global
These are significant results and may encourage
ethical investors to review some of their holdings
in US companies.
European groups lead way on ESG, by Ruth
Sullivan, April 1, 2012, Financial Times, UK.
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