Investing with a Conscience: The Rise of ESG and What Really Matters to Investors

By Kelly LaVigne, J.D., Allianz Life, Contributor, Kiplinger

Socially responsible investing has really blossomed in the past few years. What used to be viewed as a niche investment philosophy is now firmly planted in the mainstream, with everyday consumers using their dollars to support companies that align with their personal values around sustainability and social progressiveness.

But beyond the day-to-day choices, like what stores to frequent and what products to purchase, consumers are turning to environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards to help inform their investment decisions. In a recent study by Allianz Life, nearly 80% of people said they “love the idea of investing in companies that care about the same issues” they do, and 73% feel it’s a way to reward a company’s good behavior. On the flip side, 71% said they would stop investing in a company if it behaved in ways they consider unethical. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

US clean energy investors keenest on PV, storage in trillion dollar race, by José Rojo Martin, PV-Tech

Polled US financiers have ranked PV and storage as the most attractive renewable investment targets but warned that policy gaps could hinder long-term financing flows. Surveyed in recent months, banks, asset managers, private equity firms and other institutional investors placed utility-scale PV and energy storage as their top priorities between 2019 and 2022.

In the survey, held in May by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), the technology duo was followed by residential and commercial solar, onshore wind, bioenergy and offshore wind.  The respondents – a majority of which deploy some US$500 million a year in US renewables – mostly planned to maintain or increase clean energy allocations, with no decreases foreseen. 

Just several of the many nonprofits focusing on ESG standards in investing:

As You Sow
Founded in 1992, As You Sow promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Our vision is a safe, just, and sustainable world in which protecting the environment and human rights is central to corporate decision making. Corporations are responsible for most of the pressing social and environmental problems we face today — we believe corporations must be a willing part of the solutions. We make that happen.

Ceres
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and human rights abuses.

Green America
Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. We focus on four areas for system transformation, insisting on social justice and environmental health across all sectors. We believe if we can get these right, the rest of the economy will follow: 1. Climate and clean energy, 2. Sustainable food and agriculture, 3. Responsible investing and 4. Fair labor.

Green Faith
Green Faith’s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. Our work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions – we believe that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Currently celebrating our 49th year, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) pioneered the use of shareholder advocacy to press companies on environmental, social, and governance issues. Our coalition of over 300 global institutional investors currently represents more than $400 billion in managed assets. Leveraging our equity ownership in some of the world’s largest and most powerful companies, ICCR members regularly engage management to identify and mitigate social and environmental risks resulting from corporate operations and policies.

Proxy Preview
Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investment Institute, and Proxy Impact to help investors align their values with their investments. Publishes Annual Guide: Proxy Preview 2019 is the 15th annual edition of the insider’s guide to social and environmental shareholder proposals. This free publication is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values and investments. “Bible for socially progressive foundations, religious groups, pension funds, and tax-exempt organizations” – Chicago Tribune