Weekly News Round-Up: May 11th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: May 11th, 2018

Below please find this week's news round-up.

Don't forget to register for our Community Impact Investing Roundtable on June 11th at The Boston Foundation-- registration is open here! (Please note that at this time only asset owner seats are available.)

Also, be sure to register for next week's IEN webinar discussing The Impact Management Project, taking place on Thursday, as well as IEN's rescheduled webinar exploring the importance of ESG data & corporate engagement, now taking place on May 23rd.

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
IEN in the News

Callan Joins Intentional Endowments Network to Accelerate ESG Research and Education l Callan

  • This press release highlights how Callan, a leading institutional investment consulting firm, recently joined IEN, a nonprofit, peer-learning network advancing intentionally designed endowments that seek to enhance financial performance by aligning with mission, values, and sustainability goals.
 
 Opportunities for Action

US SIF Foundation Opens 2018 Survey on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends l Digital Journal

  • US SIF Foundation announced today that the window for the 2018 Biennial Trends Survey is now open. The survey will provide data for the 2018 edition of its Trends report.  For reference, please see the 2016 report and this piece showing Highlights from Educational Institutions. To request a customized link to participate, contact the US SIF research team at trends@ussif.org. All survey responses are confidential. 

Proxy Season Sign-On Opportunities

 
New Resources

Prison Labor in the Corporate Supply Chain l NorthStar Asset Management

  • This report goes into detail about how prison labor has become a critical issue related to economic inequality, racial justice, and human rights. “Our country’s capitalist economy is firmly based upon the exploitation of slaves and their descendants, and our criminal justice system has always been racially-skewed towards incarcerating people of color. Today’s prison labor is an extension of this abuse,” explained CEO Julie Goodridge.

How ESG Engagement Creates Value For Investors and Companies l Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)

  • This piece of research, commissioned by the PRI, looks at how ESG engagement creates value for both companies and investors, amid growing evidence that engagement by investors with companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues can create shareholder value.  

 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investors are pushing big polluters to align their business plans with the Paris Agreement; Financing the clean energy economy requires new financial models, says Hannon Armstrong CEO Jeffrey Eckel; and Zynga backs away from super-voting rights.  

How Socially Responsible Investing Can Help You Avoid Catastrophic Drops Within Your Portfolio l Business Insider

  • In this video, Martin Kremenstein, head of retirement and ETF solutions at Nuveen, explains how, according to research from MSCI, companies in the bottom ESG quintile have been twice as likely to suffer a catastrophic loss (over 95% cumulative loss) within three years. As an example, Kremenstein says that Facebook was excluded from Nuveen's NuShares ESG Large-Cap Growth ETF from the time it launched in December 2016. He explains, "it scored relatively poorly, compared to other tech companies over data privacy concerns."

Chinese Investors Warming up to Impact Investing, but Regulations Slowing Progress l South China Morning Post

  • This article outlines how Chinese investors are showing increasing interest in start-ups with innovations that tackle energy consumption, social and climate change issues, but the main force behind such so-called impact investing remains foreign firms and supranational agencies, according to fund managers.

ESG Investing Becomes Mainstream l Commonfund

  • The subject of ESG arose in several sessions at Commonfund Forum 2018. One session, in particular, was devoted to the ongoing evolution of responsible investing, with a focus on ESG. This article highlights key takeaways from the session.

Common ESG Investing Misconceptions Debunked l NASDAQ

  • ESG factors aim to account for underlying effects a given company has on the environment, how the company interacts with society at large, including its own labor force, how transparent the company is with investors, and how investor friendly the company’s governance structure is. This article addresses some persisting misconceptions about ESG investing.

Women Leaders In Sustainable Finance: Modeling The Future—Part 5 l Financial Adviser

  • Over the past four months, this article series has compiled interviews with 18 women who are trendsetters and innovators in the impact and sustainable finance sector. To read other articles in the series, click here: article 1article 2article 3article 4.
 
Racial Justice, Diversity & Inclusion

Using Critical Race Theory to Solve Our Profession’s Critical Race Issues l FPA

  • The U.S. Census expects minorities to become majorities, projecting they will comprise 57 percent of the population by 2060. Therefore, it is increasingly imperative for financial planning firms to hire and retain professionals who reflect this growing demographic. This article assesses how professionals have failed to understand and apply core principles of critical race theory (CRT) when implementing diversity initiatives, and how to apply CRT in the future.

Diversity in Silicon Valley? Not Much Has Changed l Barron's

  • When Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. barnstormed Silicon Valley in 2014 to press for diversity, it seemed the tech industry was finally ready to listen. This article highlights how four years later, progress is glacial. Just 3% of the U.S. tech workforce is black while 57% of the workforce is white, according to data recently compiled by market research firm IHS Markit.
 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments, Foundations & Pensions

Client Demand: Swedish Pension Fund Commits $100 Million to BlackRock’s Emerging Markets Impact Fund l Impact Alpha

  • European pension funds, including Sweden’s state funds, have been at the forefront of the institutional drive toward sustainable investing, and specifically the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Now, Swedish pension fund AP1 has prodded BlackRock to create an emerging-markets equity fund “that takes into account measurable social and environmental impact without compromising on financial return.”
 
Shareholder Engagement

Powerful Investors Push Big Companies to Plan for Climate Change l Scientific American

  • Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron and Kinder Morgan are facing renewed pressure from climate-focused activist investors. This article discusses this year's proxy season, and how so far, about 20 climate-related resolutions have been withdrawn before a vote because agreements have been reached, according to a database compiled by Ceres, a nonprofit that tracks shareholder engagement and works with investors on sustainability issues.

As You Sow, Arjuna Capital: Entergy Responds to Shareholder Distributed Energy Business Model Proposal; Company Commits to Prepare Two-Degree Risk Report l Cision

  • shareholder resolution filed at Entergy by As You Sow and  Arjuna Capital received strong support from 30% of Entergy's shareholders. The resolution highlights the need for Entergy to modernize its business model and incorporate distributed, low carbon technologies such as energy storage, rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and demand response. This is the third consecutive year that this resolution has received significant investor support. In response, the Company announced at its Annual General Meeting that it intends to produce a report evaluating the risks to the company of a two-degree scenario in which the world is quickly decarbonizing.

Gender Pay Activist Investor and #TimesUp Movement Leaders Address Bloomberg Equality Summit in New York l Cision

  • This article highlights how Arjuna Capital's Natasha Lamb joins Ashley Judd, Chelsea Handler, Chelsea Clinton and other business, academic and political leaders to chart the future of equality and metrics for progress, Including economic and societal impact.

Arjuna Capital: Dominion Agrees with Investors to Safely Manage Methane Leaks Ahead of Vote at AGM l Cision

  • In response to a shareholder resolution filed As You Sow and Arjuna Capital, which was set to go to a vote at Dominion's annual general meeting (AGM) today, Dominion published its methane leakage rates and committed to report to investors annually on these critical metrics. The resolution highlights the need for Dominion to responsibly manage its methane emissions, particularly storage operations with wells similar to the well that blew out in Aliso Canyon in 2015, releasing over 100,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere. This was the second year that the groups have placed a methane-focused resolution on Dominion's proxy statement.
 
Firearm Divestment News
 Stop Investing in Companies That Make Our World More Dangerous (Opinion) l ModBee
  • In this opinion piece, California public officials and concerned citizens call on  institutional investors like Blackrock, Vanguard and the public pension funds that represent teachers and public employees, like CalPERS and CalSTRS – to use the power of their purses to prevent more of California's schools, worksites and places of worship from becoming killing fields. 

CalSTRS Opts to Engage Assault Weapon Retailers, Not Immediate Divestment l WKZO

  • The California State Teachers' Retirement System decided on Wednesday to publicly engage retailers of military-style assault weapons in the wake of public outcry over mass shootings, as opposed to immediately reducing investments in these companies. The decision by the nation’s second-largest pension fund came after California State Treasurer John Chiang urged CalSTRS to use "the power of its purse strings" and "deny weapons of mass carnage to another killer stalking our innocent loved ones."
 

 

Investment Firm News

Mercer Touts ESG Integration, SDGs (Opinion) l Top 1000 Funds

  • This article highlights how sustainability has long been a focus for Mercer, and dives into the components of Mercer's sustainable investment beliefs. It is one of the five investment beliefs underpinning their practice, and the reason the firm established a responsible investment focused practice in 2004.

SDG Evaluation Tool Launched by Trucost l Cision

  • Trucost, a leader in carbon and environmental data and risk analysis, has launched the Trucost SDG Evaluation Tool to help enable companies to identify business risks and opportunities aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On September 25th 2015, countries adopted the goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Trucost is part of S&P Dow Jones Indices. 

JPMorgan Endorses ‘Sustainable’ Investing as a Way to Outperform the Market l MarketWatch

  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.is the latest financial institution to advocate for so-called “sustainable” investing, writing that it was mature enough to be considered a viable strategy on returns grounds, as opposed to a niche option for investors who want to put their money in places that don’t violate their personal beliefs.
 
Climate Risk & Clean Energy

How Oman’s Rocks Could Help Save the Planet l The New York Times

  • This article describes how scientists are exploring how rock formations in Oman are removing planet-warming carbon dioxide from the air and turning it to stone. In theory, this natural process could be modeled to store hundreds of years of human emissions of CO2.

Meet the Tick That's Forcing American's to Give Up Their Red Meat l Grist

  • This article outlines the spread of Lonestar Ticks, a breed of tick that, thanks to warming temperatures, are being found far outside their usual range. This breed of tick can carry alpha-gal, which causes a severe, delayed-reaction immune response to eating red meat.

‘Fallen off a Cliff’: Scientists Have Never Observed so Little Ice in The Bering Sea in Spring l Washington Post

  • In the middle of February, one-third of the ice covering the Bering Sea off Alaska’s West Coast vanished within a week when an enormous pulse of heat swept over the Arctic. Scientists were stunned. This rapid meltdown precipitated a record-shattering decline in Bering Sea ice through the winter and into spring, which has threatened the very way of life in Alaska’s coastal villages — reliant on the ice cover for transportation and hunting.

 

General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News

A Rare Look Into a CIO’s Pay Structure l Institutional Investor

  • A Freedom of Information Act request — and subsequent lawsuit — filed by the Detroit Free Press has resulted in a rare look at the pay structure at one of the country’s top public endowment offices. The University of Michigan’s 26-page “Investment Office Incentive Plan” was published by the newspaper Friday, May 5, after a state judge ordered its release. 

Endowment Tax Repeal Finds Supporters in Both Political Parties l Bloomberg

  • A House bill to repeal the four-month-old U.S. college endowment tax has gained sponsors on both sides of the political aisle. Yet none of the sponsors, including Republicans Lamar Smith of Texas and Bradley Byrne of Alabama, sit on the critical Ways and Means Committee, which is in charge of introducing the bill, HR 5220.

Carthage College Endowment Overachiever Leaves Money on the Table l Bloomberg

  • Bill Abt, who manages money for Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is at the top of the endowment game. Using 10 Vanguard funds — the same low-cost funds available to retail investors — his 10-year return beat 90 percent of his peers. He avoided the high costs and extra risks of more sophisticated products and the need for a large staff for due diligence and monitoring.
 
  
Fossil Fuel Divestment

CIOs Say Divestment Isn’t the Way l CIO

  • The CIOs from CalSTRS and The New York State Common Retirement Fund from both coasts agreed that while divesting from controversial companies looks good on paper, it does nothing for the companies themselves in terms of behavior. The two CIOs concluded that the answer isn’t divestment from the companies, but working with them to change their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies. Fuller and Ailman said that this method would affect share values properly.

Saint Mary's College of California Divestment Committee holds Fossil Free Rally l The Collegian

  • In an effort to raise awareness for fossil fuel divestment at Saint Mary’s College, members of the Divestment Committee put on the Fossil Free SMC Rally on Wednesday, May 2 in Dante Quad. 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

 Mission Forward! MIE’s 2018 National Conference l Mission Investors Exchange, May 14-16, 2018, Chicago, IL

Davos on the Delta l iSelect Fund, May 15-17, 2018, Memphis, TN

IEN Webinar: The Impact Management Project l May 17, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

IEN Roundtable: Community Impact Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, June 11, 2018, Boston, MA

  • The Intentional Endowments Network will host a Community Impact Investing Roundtable focused on opportunities for place-based investing. The Roundtable will convene endowment and foundation decision-makers and other stakeholders interested in enhancing their leadership on sustainable investing.

Confluence Philanthropy's 2018 Advisors Forum l June 19-20, 2018, New York, NY

  • The Advisors Forum will convene Confluence members and colleagues to explore how we can work together to scale the impact industry. Discussions will focus on cutting-edge themes including investing in diversity, inclusion, and equity; sustainability; and barriers to deal flow. IEN members will receive the member rate to participate.

US SIF Annual Conference l US SIF, May 30 - June 1, 2018, Washington DC

Global Climate Action Summit l Global Climate Action SummitSeptember 12-14, 2018, San Francisco, CA

PRI In Person l Principles for Responsible Investment, September 12-14, 2018, San Francisco, CA

The 29th Annual SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2018, Colorado Springs, CO

2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | February 10-12, 2019, Tempe, AZ