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High Meadows Institute

HMI launches database of global corporate responsibility initiatives

BOSTON – High Meadows Institute is excited to announce the launch of the Business Leadership in Society Database, a comprehensive new resource for tracking and assessing industry associations and partnerships promoting responsible business leadership. Developed by High Meadow Institute, with support from KKS Advisors, the database profiles over 200 initiatives, operating both nationally and globally and will officially launch June 3. Self-regulatory initiatives that address major Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues have become an increasingly important contributor in setting standards for corporate social responsibility in the 21st century. While the number of these initiatives is rapidly growing, there is…

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ESG in a Post COVID-19 World – Briefing Note #1

As companies face unprecedented challenges, JUST Capital launched the COVID-19 Corporate Response Tracker
to explore the actions CEOs and corporate leaders of America’s 100 largest public employers are taking to
support and protect their workers, among others. According to the tracker, the most common actions taken by
companies during the pandemic include offering special accommodations to customers such as discounts (64%
of companies) and allowing remote or modified schedules (also 64%). Other key metrics and results include [as
of 20th April]:

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The Role of Trade Associations in ESG

  While ESG integration has been widely explored from company, investor, and broader capital market perspectives, there has been less focus on the role of trade associations in ESG integration and their influence on regulation and policy development on ESG issues such as climate change. This research note, prepared by KKS Advisors, shines a light on the role that trade associations play in promoting and inhibiting the integration of ESG in business practices and reporting. It examines the ways that companies currently disclose their trade association memberships and identifies barriers to increased disclosure and transparency. Specifically it makes a case for…

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Introducing the newest HMI Fellow, Jon Lukomnik

The High Meadows Institute is pleased to welcome Jon Lukomnik as a senior fellow of the Institute. Jon has had a long and distinguished career in the investment management industry and is one of the pioneers of modern corporate governance. He has written and published over 200 academic and practitioner articles on how to strengthen the contribution and accountability of the financial systems and asset management industry. He is the past executive director of the Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) Institute, whose research has been widely praised for objectively examining fundamental corporate governance and capital market issues. He is a…

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Recommended Reading

What the Wells Fargo Crackdown Signals to Corporate America The Federal Reserve’s recently imposed penalties on Wells Fargo diverge from President Trump’s stated position on de-regulation. However, Peter Henning of the New York Times sees the “crackdown” as a one-off penalty and not a sign of broader industry regulation to come.   Unilever Threatens to Reduce Ad Spending on Tech Platforms That Don’t Combat Divisive Content Unilever, long viewed as a leader in corporate social responsibility, recently announced that the company will no longer advertise on platforms that are not “committed to creating a positive impact in society.” The company…

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Recommended Reading

BlackRock Message: Contribute to Society or Risk Losing Our Support Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock (the largest investor in the world), is sending a letter to the world’s largest public companies letting them know that in addition to turning a profit, they have to show that they are doing good in the world to receive BlackRock’s support–and a share of its $6 trillion AUM. In the letter, Fink shares HMI’s perspective that government is not doing enough to prepare for future and the onus now rests on the private sector to address societal challenges. Wall Street Fighters, Do-Gooders—And Sting—Converge…

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ESG Integration in Investment Management: Myths and Realities

Until very recently, there has been considerable doubt, especially among mainstream investors, that companies with high ESG “scores” could succeed in producing competitive returns for their shareholders. Studies of the last three decades of the 20th century have reported that what was then known as Socially Responsible Investing (or SRI)—an investment approach that worked mainly by screening out the companies with the lowest ESG scores or entire industries such as tobacco and alcohol—produced shareholder returns that were often below market averages. And this finding has in turn contributed to the widespread perception that corporate efforts to address environmental and social…

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Finding the Signal in the Noise

The practice of integrating ESG factors into investment decisions is growing, but are asset managers and owners making the right decisions about which factors to focus on? The answer is, not often enough, despite research by George Serafeim and others at Harvard Business School which concluded that company financial performance is only improved if a given ESG factor or issue is relevant, or material, to that company in its industry peer group. As a growing number of asset owners and asset managers are interested in integrating material ESG factors into their investment decisions. Those not yet involved in the practice…

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Defining Sustainability

How often have we heard the words “what do you mean by sustainability?” Perhaps it avoids definition because sustainability applies to so many facets of our lives, to so many business or organizational strategies, to so many approaches we might take to moving to desirable outcomes. Does the notion of sustainability have a time period attached to it? One that says if you can keep something up for a certain amount of time you have crossed the threshold of sustainability?  In the world of environmental policy, sustainability has come to mean that if an organization is not meeting certain environmental…

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