OWS Movement Speaks to Many of the Long-term Concerns of Sustainable and Responsible Investors
WASHINGTON--US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment issued the following statement from CEO Lisa Woll today:
“The Occupy movement occurring across the country, and indeed, around the world, speaks to many of the issues and concerns raised by sustainable and responsible investors over the past several decades-- and particularly since the unfolding of the recent financial crisis.
For more than 30 years, socially responsible investors have been advocates for corporate social responsibility. They have engaged in shareholder advocacy, directed capital to companies that pursue sustainable business practices and invested in communities, particularly those least able to obtain financial services through traditional financial institutions. The sustainable and responsible investing community has a history of advancing responsible corporate governance, increasing corporate accountability, addressing corporate environmental and social shortcomings, and supporting community investing institutions that strengthen low-income communities through access to capital (the very institutions that have been the recipients of “move your money” and other recent campaigns).
US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment was one of only a handful of financial services/investment organizations to support increased regulation and innovation during the debate over financial reform. We focused on several issues including:
- Executive Compensation: Gaining tools to restrain excessive corporate executive pay and to tie executive pay to the company's long-term performance; thus, we promoted Say on Pay and disclosure of the ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay.
- Corporate Governance: Supporting tools to improve corporate governance, such as majority voting requirements and procedures for shareholders to nominate directors and have their names and bios included in proxy statements. Proxy access, which was recently struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, would have ended the de facto monopoly of boards and company management in picking director slates, an important component of achieving the goal of more effective oversight of the boards of US publicly traded companies.
- Creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: The recent financial crisis and the significant number of foreclosures have clearly indicated that the United States must have a fully funded, effective regulator to protect consumers from predatory lending and to ensure that all Americans have adequate access to capital to start small businesses and buy homes.
Like many other individuals and institutions, US SIF is also very concerned about the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. the FEC, which removed restrictions on corporate and union funding of independent political broadcasts in elections. In effect, the Supreme Court's decision legalized unlimited corporate spending to influence the outcome of elections, as long as this spending is not given directly to an individual campaign.
We recently signed onto a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) noting strong support for rulemaking requiring corporate political transparency. A wide range of investment professionals signed onto this letter, including mutual funds and other institutional asset managers, foundations, religious investors and financial planners with more than $690 billion on behalf of individual and institutional clients in North America and Europe.
US SIF will continue to engage with investors and policymakers to advance practices that protect consumers, require companies to be accountable on social, environmental and governance issues, and create conditions for a more sustainable economy.”
CONTACT: Megan Smith, US SIF, at 202-747-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.