January 2008

UN Global Compact Delists Hundreds Of Companies For Missing Reporting Deadlines. – [COMMENTARY] Similar to ’greenwashing’ where companies say they are green but are not, companies signed-on en masse to the UN’s Global Compact’s ten principles. “The Global Compact’s ten principles [are] in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption enjoy universal consensus…” Check this list to see if any of the companies you have invested in are on it. If yes, as an ethical investor you may want to contact the company to see what they have to say!
Update: Over 900 Global Compact Participants Marked “Inactive” or Delisted, January 28, UN Global Compact, United Nations.

Indian Ethical Investing Index Launched By S&P Subsidiary, Crisil Ltd. – [COMMENTARY] It seems the World Bank, KLD, Crisil and S&P are all involved in putting together this index which comprises the stocks of 50 Indian companies. The index constituents have performed largely in line with the Indian National Stock Exchange′s 50-share index, also known as the S&P CNX Nifty. Now ethical investors from all over the world will have a further source of information for Indian ethical stocks and bonds.
Crisil launches index to track firms on social responsibility, by Gargi Banerjee, January 31, 2008, livemint.com, India. See also, S&P ESG India.

Islamic Banking Becomes Controversial Among Muslims In Canada. – [COMMENTARY] The Muslim Canadian Congress, a secular group says, “Islamic banking is nothing more than an attempt by Islamists, with backing from Middle Eastern financial institutions and their Western partners, to scare Muslim Canadians into believing that they should pay more to the banks and demand less in return, as an act of religiosity,” said MCC president Farzana Hassan in an open letter to CMHC.” The CMHC — Canada Motgage & Housing Corporation — is doing a study on Islamic banking.
Halt Islamic banking study, group says, by Tavia Grant, January 29, 2008, The Globe & Mail, Canada.

Socially Responsible Investing Does Not Mean Lower Returns. – [COMMENTARY] Eugene Ellmen, Executive Director of Canada’s Social Investment Organization cites studies showing that ethical investing, socially responsible investing, etc., has a ’neutral to positive relationship with performance.’ In fact, overall, it is possible to achieve really good returns with ethical stocks and bonds.
Socially responsible investment and performance, by Eugene Ellmen, Stockhouse.com, Canada.

Progress Being Made On Corporate Sustainability Reporting Standards. – [COMMENTARY] I welcome the developments in this area! If investors are to have faith in environmental, social and governance reporting by companies, there must be a uniform standard for these reports as well as independent auditing and audit commentary, on them. All companies will come to see the advantage of using corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting. Competing on a such a basis, companies will be more efficient, effective and maximize profits. Leading companies in almost every industry are usually the ones with the best CSR policies and activities.
THE FUTURE OF NON-FINANCIAL CORPORATE REPORTING: How to influence the next generation of ASSURANCE STANDARD, January 29, 2008, Accountability-Central.com, USA.

Canadian Shareholder Engagement Activity Report for 4Q07. – [COMMENTARY] Shareholder Association for Research and Education report is interesting reading for any ethical investor investing in Canadian companies.
SHARE Engagement report, January 2008, SHARE, Canada.

Article Reviews Impact Of European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive On Companies. – [COMMENTARY] The directive will have enormous impact on many green stocks. This article describes its potential impact on some of Europe’s biggest green energy companies.
Impact of Renewable Energy Directive on companies, January 28, 2008, Easier Finance, UK.

US: Northern Trust Says 19% Of Gen X Millionaire Households Vs 12% Of Baby Boomer Millionaire Households Own Socially Responsible Investments. – [COMMENTARY] A fascinating survey of high-net-worth US households and the way they invest. Particularly interesting is that the younger millionaire households are more likely to hold socially responsible investments and that 64% of all high-net-worth households surveyed were aware of socially responsible investing (pages 20/22). This survey is interesting to read to understand the mind-set and developing investment trends among the US wealthy.
Wealth in America Survey, January 25, 2008, Northern Trust, USA.

Faith-Based Investing In India Takes-Off. – [COMMENTARY] A good overview of faith-based or spiritual investing in India provided by this article.
Indian index has a religious edge, by Raja M, January 23, 2008, Asia Times, Hong Kong.

Corporate Knights And Innovest Strategic Value Advisors Announce At Davos Their Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations. – [COMMENTARY] This list is always worthwhile looking at, as it is compiled by two outstanding organizations and includes companies whose stocks are among the best socially responsible stocks to invest in. The UK has the most companies in the list: 24 UK companies. The USA follows with 16 and Japan 13.
Corporate Knights Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations Announced in Davos, January 23, 2008, Corporate Knights Magazine, Canada.

CRO Magazine Publishes Its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List. – [COMMENTARY] This is an interesting list. Personally, I find the listing of some companies not to my liking. However, CRO has specific criteria as to how they judge companies and I guess what goes into that criteria is what one may argue with. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to read their overall summary and then see the specifics.
100 Best Corporate Citizens 2007, January, 2008, CRO Magazine, USA.

New Website: Investors Against Genocide. – [COMMENTARY] Website contains a list of companies and investment firms that they believe are engaged in helping states commit human rights abuses. They encourage investors to contact these firms to show their displeasure with the company’s participation with such abusers. Ethical investors may also want to go to this site to see who is listed. The types of actions advocated by Investors Against Genocide are gaining ground and could well affect stock values of companies involved.
Investors Against Genocide, USA.

Canada’s Banks Being Requested By Meritas Mutual Funds To Give Shareholders ’Say On Pay.’ – [COMMENTARY] Say on pay resolutions have become relatively commonplace in the US and UK, but it is just beginning in Canada. Executive pay in the US, and to a lesser extent in Canada and the UK, is significantly higher than in other developed countries. Corporate executives and board members of the same company frequently keep close company. So when board compensation committees meet deciding on executive remuneration, it can be argued that the compensation committees are not operating objectively. I believe that shareholders have an innate right to offer their opinions as to executive — and board members — compensation.
Resolution gives investors say on pay, by Janet McFarland, January 24, 2008, The Globe & Mail, Canada.

UK’s EIRIS Launches Investors And Advisors Guide To Ethical Investing Funds. – [COMMENTARY] This is a great guide for UK ethical investors. It makes selecting a green or ethical fund easier. Non UK investors might also find some useful information in this directory as well.
The EIRIS Green & Ethical Funds Directory, January, 2008, EIRIS, UK.

Survey: 71% Of US Investors See Environmental-Technology Companies As A Buy. – [COMMENTARY] Allianz Global Investors Distributors LLC just released this survey that also showed nearly half of US investors polled want to make green investments in 2008. Incidentally, the study also found that among investors, 83% of their advisors had never recommended such an investment.
Investors see the green in ’going green,’ survey finds, by Andrew Coen, January 18, 2008, Investment News, USA.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Index In Malaysia Outperforms Non-SRI Peer Index. – [COMMENTARY] Around the world ethical stocks and bonds have done better than unscreened investing approaches. This is a good sign for the future. However, many ethical investors and funds are heavily invested in sectors that can be volatile — as we see in the markets today. With consciousness rising as to the concerns of global warming and corporate ethics, I believe that over the longer term green and ethical investing will be the place to be.
Socially responsible firms ‘outperform KLCI,′ by Sharmila Ganapathy, January 21, 2008, The Edge Daily, Malaysia.

Drug Companies’ Ethics Found Wanting. Positive Drug Studies’ Results Are Published; Negative Data Ignored. – [COMMENTARY] “The makers of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil never published the results of about a third of the drug trials that they conducted to win government approval, misleading doctors and consumers about the drugs′ true effectiveness, a new analysis has found.” — The New York Times. Clearly, if you are an ethical investor investing in drug companies, you must be concerned about this — as anyone who participated in their drug trials or is a patient consuming drugs! Almost all ethical funds have a significant percentage of their assets in drug companies. They need to re-evaluate such holdings.
Antidepressant Studies Unpublished, by Benedict Carey, January 17, 2008, The New York Times, USA.

New Dow Jones Indexes Based On Dharmic Religions–Hinduism and Buddhism–Launched. – [COMMENTARY] “The Dow Jones Dharma Index series includes the Dow Jones Dharma Global Index, as well as four country indexes for the U.S., the U.K., Japan and India. The indexes are designed to underlie financial products such as exchange-traded funds and other investable products that enable investors to participate in the performance of companies which are compliant with Dharmic religious traditions…  [these] are the first faith-based indexes created to measure Dharma compliant equities, said Michael A. Petronella, president of Dow Jones Indexes.” The development of these indexes is great news for spiritual investors, especially those who follow Hindu and Buddhist ideals.
Scroll down the press releases to Dow Jones Indexes and Dharma Investments to Launch New Faith-Based Indexes, January 15, 2008, Dow Jones Indexes, USA.

Are Some US Investment Banks Profiting From Insider Trading? – [COMMENTARY] The Wall Street Journal has revealed that investment firms may be benefiting from inside information concerning their own firm’s deal activities. Some might say, well what do you expect of Wall Street? I agree, money and greed trump ethics all the time among our finance elites. With the dot.com scenario a few years back, now the sub-prime mess and the derivative melt-down, the ethics of many Wall Street firms are being shown to be rather bad.
Trading in Deal Stocks Triggers Look at Banks, by Mark Maremont and Susanne Craig, January 14, 2008, The Wall Street Journal, USA.

Ceres Report: HSBC Leads Global Banks In Corporate Governance Regarding Climate Change. – [COMMENTARY] The Ceres report, Corporate Governance and Climate Change: The Banking Sector, took a look at forty global banks as to their management of climate change issues. “HSBC was followed by ABN AMRO, Barclays, HBOS and Deutsche Bank, all of which are European institutions. U.S. banks Citigroup and Bank of America ranked sixth and seventh. The banks with the lowest scores include Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Bank of China and Bank of Nova Scotia.” If you want to invest in environmentally and socially conscious banks, the Ceres report could be a good place to start.
Banks Take Steps Addressing Climate Change but Long Road Ahead: Report, January 11, 2008, GreenBiz.com, USA.

Worldwatch Institute Says As Much As $66 Billion Invested Globally In 2007 In Wind Power, Biofuels And Other Alternative Energy Sources.  – [COMMENTARY] In 2006, an estimated $52 Billion was invested which was in itself up by 33% from 2005.
State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy, January, 2008, Worldwatch Institute, USA.

UBS Launches ’Greenhouse Index.’ – [COMMENTARY] The UBS Greenhouse Index will “… give investors exposure to the impact of carbon emissions on global temperatures… the index will lock into contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the European Climate Exchange and on the Nordic exchange Nord Pool.” This appears to be the first of its kind and demonstrates the interest that major investment banks are taking concerning carbon trading and sustainability investing. This stuff is quite technical and interested investors should always get help with investing in such products from a qualified investment professional.
UBS Launches Global Warming Investment Tool, by Golnar Motevalli, editing by James Jukwey, Reuters, January 10, 2008, USA.

Social Funds Picks The Top Five 2007 Socially Responsible News Stories. – [COMMENTARY] Another good look back at last year’s socially responsible investing news. Worth reading if you are trying to understand the trends in this industry.
Top Five Socially Responsible Investing News Stories of 2007, by Anne Moore Odell, January 8, 2008, socialfunds.com, USA.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Expert Looks At Past, Predicts Future, CSR Trends. – [COMMENTARY] For companies, the advantages of using corporate social responsibility have never been greater. This article provides a good look at what has occurred, and what is likely to become reality, in CSR. It is a useful review for investors to gain some insight as to how their favourite ethical companies match-up in the realm of CSR.
Corporate social responsibility – Looking five years forward and back, by Mallan Baker, January 7, 2008, Ethical Corporation, UK.

Overview Of Green Venture Capital (VC) Investing. – [COMMENTARY] This is a useful overview of the state of green (mostly US) VC investing.
CleanTech Investing: The Green Gold Rush, January 6, 2008, GreenBiz.com, USA.

US Ceres/Association Of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Announces Shortlist For The Ceres-ACCA North American Sustainability Reporting 2007 Awards. – [COMMENTARY] If you are looking for companies with the best ethical stocks and bonds, you might like to review this list.
Finalists Chosen for Ceres-ACCA North American Sustainability Reporting Awards, CSRWire/Accountability-Central.com, USA.

Survey By Cabot Heritage Corporation In US Finds 85% Of Its Investors Interested In Green Investments. – [COMMENTARY] Surveys like this one by Cabot Heritage Corporation continue to show that the vast majority of investors in the US — as well as in other developed countries — are wanting green stocks that are good to invest in.
Outlook Bright for ’Green’ Investments as Global Demand Soars for Energy and Earth-Friendly Products, January 3, 2008, press release, PR Newswire.com, USA.

Last Year’s Top Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Stories According To Bill Baue. – [COMMENTARY] Mr. Baue, a longtime, insightful reporter on CSR and socially responsible investing, provides a good overview of the top CSR stories in 2007.
Top Corporate Social Responsibility News of 2007, by Bill Baue, January 2, 2008, CSRWire.com, USA.

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