Welcome to the EIRIS responsible investment blog. Get our perspectives on the latest trends and developments in responsible investment and corporate social responsibility.
2013 marks ten years since the genocide in Darfur began. A few weeks ago, declaring that “the crisis constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Sudan. . . has not been resolved,” the U.S. Government renewed its economic sanctions on Sudan. Fighting is ongoing in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states on the Sudan-South Sudan border, and many analysts fear that Sudan and South Sudan may continue to battle over the oil industry and its infrastructure.
Responding to this ongoing crisis, more than 20 U.S. states have enacted targeted Sudan divestment legislation and more than 60 endowments incorporate Sudan-related investment criteria.
In this context, EIRIS Conflict Risk Network has released its 2013 Sudan Company Report. This year’s report profiles 74 companies, among which: Read more >
In August/September 2013, we – as part of a wider project on gold mining – interviewed a number of investment managers and ESG research providers including EIRIS to gather their views on the key ESG issues for the gold mining sector and on their expectations of the sector. Read more >
What does the post-2015 agenda of Sustainable Development Goals mean for investors?
This year I was fortunate enough to join over 1,000 Corporate Leaders at the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Leaders Summit in New York.
The Summit, chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is a triennial gathering of top executives. This year it set the stage for business to shape and advance the post-2015 development agenda, and the convergence of the two tracks of the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda and the Rio+20 process for developing universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Read more >
Reflecting on the early days when EIRIS was establishing itself and pursuing its mission, it is staggering to review how much has developed in the field of ethical and responsible investing. In the 1980s there was an emerging group, of which Peter Webster was one, who saw that there was a place for looking thoroughly at how an investor might align their moral obligations and societal concerns with their investment behaviour. Whilst the notion of ethical investing was already in existence, more in the USA than the UK at that time, there was very little understanding of the topic or simple ways of accessing thoughtful investment which reflected both the financial and ethical imperatives. One or two unitised funds existed; nothing like the array of options now available.
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Every business worth its salt these days understands that sustainability is important. There may be confusion about what it means and what to do about it, but survey after survey finds that senior executives know that it matters – for example, Accenture reported last year that 44% of senior executives thought it was ‘critical’ to their business.
That’s an amazing transformation since EIRIS first opened its doors in 1983. Back then, barely anybody in business had even heard the term “sustainability”. Read more >
Much has changed over the last 30 years and probably for the better in relation to corporate governance and responsible investment, and we have much to thank pioneers like EIRIS, who took up the cause long before it became fashionable.
Back in 1982, I was in my final year at University College London poring over Shakespeare, Chaucer and other mediaeval and early English texts. I knew little about modern business then and the terms “corporate governance” and “responsible investment” were unknown to me. However my study of Early and Middle English literature did teach me that the concept of social responsibility was by no means a modern invention and that it was firmly embedded in the mediaeval mind and strongly reinforced by the prevailing religious beliefs of the day. Read more >
Imagine the ethical investment scene in the early eighties.
Some investors were waking up to their responsibilities as part-owners of companies that had a significant impact on society and the world. Yet there were no channels through which these investors could act on their concerns. The British authorities even refused to establish the first ethical unit trust, as it was argued that unit trusts should focus exclusively on financial performance and not on social or other impacts. Read more >
There is little doubt that social issues have become increasingly important for investors over the last 30 years. There is perhaps nowhere in the world that has a deeper understanding of this than South Africa. Read more >
It is commonly accepted that the modern environmental movement was founded in the 1960’s, catalysed by the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Despite this, when EIRIS was established in 1983, most in the business and investment communities were not even considering the environment as an issue for them.
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Labour standards issues still appear as a systemic risk for companies operating in or sourcing goods from the global manufacturing centre of China. Indeed, while it has experienced fast socio-economic change and modernization, the one-party communist state continues to be the scene of regular violations of human rights and poor working conditions. Failure to uphold the core international labour standards developed by the ILO – such as prohibition of child and forced labour – can expose companies to operational disruptions and serious reputational damage, especially since consumers and investors are increasingly sensitive to these problems.
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