Posts Tagged ‘Advocacy’

Shareholder Advocacy Review – Summer 2022

Government Advocacy

Our engagements with lawmakers this quarter focused on deforestation, climate change risk, and workers’ rights. We signed a collaborative investor letter facilitated by Domini Investments in support of the Fostering Overseas Rule of Law and Environmentally Sound Trade (FOREST) Act, which prohibits access to U.S. markets for commodities that originate from illegally deforested land. The bill criminalizes illegal deforestation, increases transparency in reporting companies’ international supply chains, and provides a federal government purchasing preference for deforestation-free products.

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2021 Shareholder Advocacy Review: The Winds at Our Back

Natural Investments remained active in advocacy efforts in the past year to bring about needed improvements to the economic system while fostering equity and justice for women and people of color. We continued to engage major corporations on their policies and practices, funneled more capital to traditionally marginalized populations and educated policymakers about appropriate oversight of the finance industry.

But having a supportive administration in Washington, D.C., which embraced the priorities socially and environmentally responsible investors value, pushed the needle forward significantly.

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Invested In Racism – Asset Manager Woke-Washing

So you have money invested with Vanguard, BlackRock, State Street, or Fidelity, and you recently heard that these Asset Managers have failed to utilize their power as large shareholders of publicly traded companies to address structural racism.

You don’t want your money held at, or managed by a Company that is supporting voter suppression and other public policies that cause great harm to communities of color. After all that we have learned about racial injustice in American society, some companies are still, to this day, voting to approve all-white corporate boards of directors, or blocking shareholder efforts to improve corporate disclosures of lobbying activities and political contributions.

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The Deal with Donor-Advised Funds

After wrapping up another season of end-of- year requests from non-profits, it seems to make sense to take a broader look at philanthropy and charitable giving.

Philanthropy in the U.S. is a massive undertaking. In 2020 Americans gave $471 billion to charitable causes. That is almost the same amount the federal government generally spends every month.

Why people choose to give, and what causes they support, is often a deeply personal matter. Some choose to support scholarships, while some support causes they think the government could or should cover; others to further a cause or ideal.

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Shareholder Advocacy Review – Fall 2021

It’s been a busy summer season for advocacy, and it continues to be refreshing to discover allies on Capitol Hill for the priorities of sustainable and responsible investors.

SUCCESSES
The EPA recently announced environmental protections under the Clean Water Act for Bristol Bay and a plan that could permanently block the development of the proposed Pebble Mine. The letter we co-signed calling for the EPA and Congress to permanently protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay and the world’s largest wild fishery against large-scale mining may have helped.

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SRI Advocacy Highlights 2021

The change in US administration this year has generated a palpable sense of optimism among proponents of socially responsible investing and a sustainable and just economy. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other federal agencies have appointed new leaders whose values align with our priorities. As a result, many of the 11th-hour rules and regulations put in place by the previous
administration in 2020 have either been paused, deemed unworthy of enforcement, or canceled.

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Black Economic Self-Determination with Ed Whitfield

Natural Investments hosted a webinar called “Black Economic Self-Determination: To Move Forward We Must Understand The Past” with Ed Whitfield of Seed Commons. Reconstruction, the period that followed the Civil War, was a time when attempts were made to repair our country and our economy from slavery. Reconstruction failed, and set us up for what we are experiencing now–a political, social and economic system based in white supremacy and white nationalist violence. The increasing racial wealth divide exacerbated by COVID, killings of Black people, flagrant racism under Trump, modern day red lining and the January 6th insurrection are all ways that we see and feel the vestiges of failed Reconstruction.

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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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SRI in Focus: The Vibrant Growth of Sustainable Investing

The Biennial Report on US Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends, which measures the state of the industry at the end of 2019, shows that sustainable, socially responsible, and impact investing (SRI) is on its way to becoming the new normal. Since the previous report two years ago, the amount of assets under professional management in the US that integrates some form of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria jumped 43% to over $17 trillion. Not only is this the largest two-year increase in 25 years of reporting, but the total suggests that one of every three dollars of professionally managed investments is invested using SRI criteria.

There are now about 400 money managers practicing SRI and more than 500 institutional investors (such as pension plans, government treasuries, and university and foundation endowments) applying various ESG criteria as a matter of investment policy. More than 1200 community development financial institutions provide capital to people and communities in need of basic banking services, loans, and access to credit.

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Shareholder Activism: The Name of The Game

Socially responsible investing has gone mainstream, if you haven’t heard.  Recent reports show that the total amount of professionally managed money invested with social and or environmental criteria has topped $11 trillion.  This hasn’t gone unnoticed by a myriad of large and small investment companies and advisors.  It is now more important than ever for committed conscientious investors to understand the various shades of socially responsible investment options in the marketplace.  Much of what passes for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments end up as merely a fund of typical companies which have been run through a screener to weed out the worst of them, known as “avoidance investing,” and their work is done.  That’s it, pretty thin soup for investors aspiring to improve the world.

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