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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 in New Jana Fund

Activist investor Jana Partners launches new CSR fund, in collaboration with Sting and CALSTRS. First target–pushing Apple to tackle teenage iPhone addiction.

“‘We still plan on finding good investments, but they will also be companies that can enhance and protect long-term value by focusing on the well-being of the public, our economy and our society, all of which are inextricably linked with long-term returns,’ said Charles Penner, a Jana partner involved with the new fund.”

Sexual Harassment Screens Making it into ETF World

Most ESG ETFs are environmentally-conscious, with few funds covering social issues. To address that in part, Impact Shares is launching an ETF focused on women’s empowerment. The fund will contain around 200 to 300 stocks and will track the Equileap North American Women’s Empowerment Index. The fund’s screening criteria includes, among other things, sexual harassment, equal pay, and flexible work options.

Plastics Pile Up as China Refuses to Take on West’s Recycling

As of January 1, 2018, China, which previously processed half the world’s used paper, metal, and plastic, will no longer accept such a broad swath of recyclable waste, limiting unsorted paper and the kind of low-grade plastic used in single-use plastic bottles. Emerging markets are unprepared to handle the volume of waste China is refusing, so recycling is piling up at waste disposal sites and centers around the West.

House Moves to Regulate Proxy Advisory Firms

In December, the US House of Representatives voted to regulate proxy advisory firms like ISS and Glass Lewis. Under the bill, proxy firms would have to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, disclose potential conflicts of interest and codes of ethics, and make public their methodologies for formulating proxy recommendations and analyses. There’s no counterpart bill in the Senate, so it is unclear if the law will be passed this Congressional session.