There is an interesting article in today’s NY Times written by Claudio Deutsch which discusses how investors have become much more focused on how companies’ environmental policies affect their bottomlines.
Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups is quoted:
“This has nothing to do with social investing. These investors are owners who want the companies to stop being laggards when it comes to minimizing risk and taking advantage of opportunities.”
Tracey C. Rembert, the coordinator of corporate governance and engagement for the Service Employees International Union, is quoted about her organization’s interest in Well Fargo:
“We want them to rethink their business, and set themselves up to take strategic advantage of climate change.”
“Climate change will involve regulatory risks, reputational risks and physical risks to the companies in any bank’s portfolio,” she said. “We need to know that Wells Fargo is ahead of the curve in addressing it.”
Granted the “investors” quoted in the article come from the public and nonprofit sectors where concern for global warming and other social issues are much more prevalent. They have also been focused on and speaking out about these issues for quite a while.
Scrutiny is not limited to businesses. Last month, the LA Times published an article entitled “Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation” about the world’ largest foundation’s investment policies.
“In a contradiction between its grants and its endowment holdings, a Times investigation has found, the foundation reaps vast financial gains every year from investments that contravene its good works.”
The article and the foundation’s subsequent response set off a firestorm in the blogosphere. (Check out Technorati on this topic.)
In any case, the NY Times article presents another example of the blurring of the traditional lines taking place between the commercial and social sectors as well as the tactics that nonprofit organizations more often employ in order to influence corporate strategy and help solve social problems.