This has been a strange summer in the northern climes, as the corporate sector and capital markets players meet the challenges of the corona virus, economic downturn, and civil protests.
In times of crises (and we have at least three major crisis situations occurring all at once to deal with this summer) certain actions may take a back seat. Not so with forward movement of corporate sustainability and ESG/sustainable investing in summer 2020.
The roots of today’s “sustainable investing” approaches go back decades; the organizing principle often was often around what investors viewed as “socially responsible”, “ethical”, “faith-based” and “values” investing. “SRI” over time evolved into the more dominant sustainable or ESG investing in the 21st Century -- with many more mainstream investors today embracing the approach.
It’s been a very busy summer for organizations managing corporate reporting frameworks and standards, for ESG rating agencies, and for multilateral agencies focused on corporate sustainability and responsibility. If you are a corporate manager or a sustainable investment professional, do tune in to some of the changes that will affect your work. Here’s a quick summary:
The question may be going around and answers offered up inside the corporate enterprise as the senior executives and function, business unit and other managers meet the challenges posed by the virus pandemic, related economic disruption and civil protests on a number of topics.
Global warming? Well, we have to say that it certainly is a hot summer in many parts of the world (north of the Equator) and the U.S. National Hurricane Center has a large list of names for the storms to come. That’s Arthur and Bertha on to Vicky and Wilfred – 21 named storms so far, with “Isaias” whipping through and causing hundreds of thousands of homes and business to lose power this past week in the NY region. And it was not even a full hurricane in the U.S. Northeast!
According to responses to a June on-line survey of 2,000 adults in the U.S.A. for “clean manufacturing” leader Genomatica, sustainability is now a top-of-mind issue, with an overwhelming majority (85% of respondents) of Americans indicating they’ve been thinking about sustainability the same amount or more…and 56% want brands and government to prioritize sustainability even in the midst of the crises (Coronavirus, economic downturn – plus civil unrest).
Several encouraging developments for you from the (1) capital markets community and (2) the corporate sector and (3) the combining of forces of each.To start: Morgan Stanley has become the first major U.S. bank to join the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials and will begin measuring and disclosing the emissions generated by the businesses that it lends to and invests in.
The popular corporate equity “baskets” including: the Dow Jones Industrial Index, Nasdaq 100, S&P 500, the Russell 1,000 - 2,000 - and 3,000– in essence consists of the underlying value of the corporate shares. Today, there is an ocean of stock indexes for asset managers to license from the creators and then apply process and approaches for keeping track of the companies in the fiduciary portfolio, or to analyze and pick from the underlying issues for their portfolio.
Two heavyweights in the corporate reporting frameworks/standards arena have announced intentions to move closer to help promote “clarity and comparability in the sustainability landscape” – GRI and SASB.
The two organizations just announced a collaborative work plan to demonstrate how some companies have used both sets of corporate ESG reporting standards…together -- and lessons to share for reporters.