Author Archive

2020 Social Impact Report

Download a full copy of our 2020 Social Impact Report

A Year of Transformation by Michael Kramer

One from the Heart: A Tribute to Jack Brill by Hal Brill

2020 Sustainable & Responsible Impact

2020 Shareholder Advocacy Review

2020 Regenerative Investments

Putting Equity at the Center of our Organizational Culture by Carrie VanWinkle

Spotlight: Kachuwa Impact Fund by Brady Quirk-Garvan

Spotlight: New Summit Investments by Ryan Jones-Casey

Spotlight: RUNWAY  by Nicole Middleton Holloway

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2020: Sustainable and Responsible Impact

Despite the massive economic and social disruption wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, governments and investors continued to buoy the capital markets. Conscientious investors saw the opportunity to channel their money into funds supporting families and small businesses in crisis. Last year, Natural Investments and our clients held $785M in responsibly managed assets, representing a 21% increase from the prior year.

We directed a significant proportion of our client investments (approximately $541M) toward responsibly managed mutual funds and separately managed accounts that use ESG integration strategies. Applying environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria helps us screen out firms with the worst corporate behavior, an approach that minimizes poor performance risk, as shown by numerous studies.

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2020 Regenerative Investments

Natural Investments has regenerative investments with forty-nine companies and funds that create social and environmental benefits in response to some of our society’s most pressing challenges. Regenerative, in this context, refers to private equity and debt investment opportunities with an explicit mission for positive societal and environmental impact. As of 2020, Natural Investment clients devoted $110M to regenerative investing, a 19 percent increase from the prior year.

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Company Engagement: Amazon and Human Rights Standards

Natural Investments has joined with other investors representing $6.7 Trillion in assets under management to request that Amazon, Inc. respect workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. We believe that worker representation plays an important role in companies.

In light of the reported anti-union practices at Amazon’s Bessemer facility in Alabama, we have joined this engagement to call upon the company to take concrete steps to implement its commitments to well-established human rights standards. We call on Amazon to immediately take steps to ensure the workers in Bessemer, Alabama are free to exercise their rights without interference. We also seek to kickstart dialogue on the company’s policies and approach to respecting labor rights in Amazon’s global operations and supply chain.

 Photo credit: Getty Images

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Rest in Peace Jack Brill

Jack Brill, a pioneer of the socially responsible investment (SRI) industry and co-founder of Natural Investments, passed away on January 21, 2021 at age 89. As one of the earliest SRI advisors in the ‘80s, Jack was a passionate advocate and known for his heartfulness and thought leadership. No one can attest to this better than his son and co-founder Hal Brill, who described their eventual realization of the power of socially responsible investing in Bringing Consciousness to Capitalism.

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In the News – Winter 2021

1: SUSTAINABLE INVESTING ASSETS REACH $17. 1 TRILLION (US SIF Foundation)
Total US-domiciled assets under management using sustainable investing strategies grew
from $12.0 trillion at the start of 2018 to $17.1 trillion at the start of 2020––an increase of 42 percent––according to a biennial “Trends Report” by the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF). The top three issues for money managers and their institutional investor clients: climate
change/carbon emissions, sustainable natural resources/agriculture, and board governance.

2: THE BIDEN ERA COULD BE A BOON TO SUSTAINABLE INVESTING (Barron’s)
Biden has promised ambitious plans for combating climate change and other environmental prerogatives. Experts outline their top seven priorities to strengthen the industry’s ability to move capital into sustainable and socially responsible investments.

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STATEMENT ON JUSTICE, EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION

Natural Investments is making a long-term commitment to the principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI).

Justice: We actively seek to dismantle supremacy in all its forms, remove barriers to justice, and use our institutional privilege to address longstanding inequities. We work collaboratively to uphold human dignity and foster systemic change both within our firm and in society.

Equity: While we believe that people of all genders, races, and other identities can succeed, build wealth, and become leaders in our industry, not everyone comes to us with the same background. We seek to proactively level the playing field through sharing power, resources, and opportunities, and embracing our diverse stories and perspectives.

Diversity: We value our differences because collectively, they make us better. Our goal is to achieve meaningful diversity on our team across race, gender, class, and other factors. At the firm level, Natural Investments is currently only adding people of color as new advisors, and we encourage all our advisors to prioritize this in their hiring as well.

Inclusion: We accept people for who they are, without creating pressure to conform or assimilate into the norms of a dominant culture. We encourage everyone to express themselves authentically and respectfully. We commit to examining the impact of our words and actions, and to deepening our awareness of patterns of harm in order to facilitate accountability, understanding, behavioral change, and healing. We engage in training and learning opportunities that build our capacity to embody a welcoming, appreciative, celebratory, and culturally rich environment for all.

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Here’s How You Can Size Up Climate Change

by Deborah Nason, CNBC

Another option is YieldCos, according to Michael Kramer, managing partner and director of research with Natural Investments in Kona, Hawaii.

″[These] are essentially renewable energy utilities, often tied to the grid,” Kramer said. “They are lower risk than, say, companies that manufacture equipment.

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Here’s what you need to know about impact investing, where returns are not the only reward

by Debora Nason, CNBC

Growing rapidly within the socially responsible investing landscape is the world of so-called impact investing, which deploys your money more directly toward solving societal problems.

Largely executed through direct investing platforms, this approach addresses specific problems, such as alleviating poverty in certain communities or reducing pollution.

These investments are designed to generate specific, positive and measurable environmental, social, and/or good governance outcomes, oftentimes with market-rate financial returns, said Michael Kramer, managing partner of Natural Investments in Kona, Hawaii. Furthermore, outcomes can have a local or a societal focus.

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