From the Editor

Friday, May 27, 2016

Is Starbucks’ issuance of a $500 million corporate bond to support programs for coffee farmers the start of a new investment trend? Given the enthusiastic response, the answer is probably “yes.” Starbucks has indicated the issue was “significantly oversubscribed,” and that it “attracted interest from a diverse group of socially conscious investors outside of its normal investor base,” reports Fortune.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sorry to mention yet another poll, but this one is about future healthcare policy, not the presidential election. A new survey by Modern Healthcare finds that two-thirds of healthcare CEOs oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Almost the same number—62%—said they supported scrapping the private insurance market to make way for a Medicare-for-all system.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Americans spend an estimated $40 billion annually on foods labeled “all natural.” But consumers have also filed more than a hundred class action lawsuits accusing companies of misleading labeling by using the words on products that contain synthetic, artificial, and genetically engineered ingredients, reports The New York Times. As a result, federal judges have asked the Food and Drug Administration to define what the term means.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Nike has weighed in on how to make progress toward environmental and social goals with a bold statement. “Less bad is not good enough,” said Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer and VP Innovation Accelerator. Jones was speaking at the fourth Copenhagen Fashion Summit, along with the likes of H&M and Patagonia.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Michael Lewis, Explainer-in Chief-of the financial World in his Liar’s Poker, The Big Short, and Flash Boys, has done it again. In a few hundred words, Lewis concisely describes “a simple plan to save the world” as outlined by Mervyn King in his book, The End of Alchemy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

It’s good news for the CSR and sustainability world that former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg only momentarily distracted himself with the idea of running for president. Last week, Bloomberg LP launched an index that scores financial-services companies on how well they treat women, and whether they are promoting gender equality.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It’s that time of year again, when shareholders’ meetings are filling up corporate calendars. High on the varied agendas is the common topic of executive compensation, an ongoing issue that is still stirring up a ruckus among stakeholders (stockholders plus activists, organizations, and individuals with an interest in a company).

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bills that give businesses the right to deny service to LGBT customers on religious grounds are earning unprecedented pushback from business. Protesting companies include many familiar brand names—Salesforce, PayPal, Eli Lilly, Disney, MGM Resorts, Apple, Facebook, Bank of America, Microsoft, Starbucks, and dozens of other national corporations—along with thousands of small companies. And companies are increasingly working together, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Managing the ever-rising cost of health spending was one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals and doctors are to be rewarded based on lower costs and better outcomes for patients. The ACA’s reforms have taken place through Medicare, but the commercial market response has been left to providers and insurers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

There’s a lesson to be learned from the near simultaneous bankruptcies of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector producer of coal, and of SunEdison, the renewable energy company once-valued at $10 billion. You might think Peabody’s failure makes sense, given the declining coal industry. And you might think that SunEdison’s failure does not make sense, given the investor, regulatory, and public support for renewable energy. But these two very dissimilar companies shared a common problem: the lack of a sustainable business model.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The category of “socially responsible investing” (SRI) has exploded into several distinct areas in recent years. Now a NASDAQ blog by Neuberger Berman, “The Purpose-Driven Portfolio,” lays out a concise primer on the subject.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Linking the bonuses of healthcare organization CEOs to patient quality, safety, and satisfaction might seem like a logical move. After all, a healthcare executive has many tools to drive patient performance metrics, from budget controls to service strategies.

Friday, April 15, 2016

This year, new solar power installations in the US are projected to more than double in number. This bright future follows last year’s news that for the first time, global investments in photovoltaic cells totaled more than those in coal- and gas-fired power generation combined, reports The Economist. But good intentions are not always good enough.

Friday, April 8, 2016

“Business likes certainty” is a basic dictum from Business Strategy 101. In the renewable energy sector, certainty has been hard to come by. Shifts in government policy have made the sector a case study in how such uncertainty can wreak havoc on even the most developed of renewable energy business plans.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Following the recent news that 81% of S&P 500 Index companies published 2015 corporate responsibility reports, it seems only right that someone has decided to read them—and more. GCA Capital fund manager Geoffrey Abbott is working his way through 3,000 reports from the largest U.S. companies, according to the WSJ.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Several new ideas have been suggested as the next iteration of CSR, from “shared value” to “impact investing.” All offer innovative plans for more robust strategies to move “beyond” traditional CSR to achieve longer term and more profitable goals.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In 2013, India passed the first national law to require CSR spending. The Companies Act mandated that some 6,000 large corporations must spend at least two percent of their three-year average annual net profit on CSR activities. Despite a lack of clarity on government-approved CSR activities and tax-related regulations, 83 percent of these companies expect to increase their CSR spending for 2016-17, according to a recent survey by Ficci.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The renewable energy sector is doing its part to address income inequality. Wind farms in the US contribute $222m annually to rural landowners, according to Re News, quoting the American Wind Energy Association's 2015 US Wind Industry Annual Market Report. Data shows that 70% of rural wind farms in the US are located in low-income counties where median household incomes fall below the US median.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Venture capitalists are investing in new health insurance companies at a record pace. Health-insurer and insurance-technology startups raised more than $1.2 billion in venture funding in 2015, according to Modern Healthcare. That's more than double the $570 million raised in 2014, and 10 times the $123 million raised in 2013. Healthcare spending makes up 17+ percent of the U.S.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The S&P 500 Index includes 80% of market capitalization, so when a large majority of its member companies do something, it’s big news. Here's the story: 81% of them have published corporate responsibility reports in 2015, according to the Governance & Accountability Institute, a sustainability reporting firm. This compares with only 20 percent in 2011, when G&A began its analysis. Why does this rapidly growing, now critical mass of sustainability reporting matter?