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What a confusing time to be a values-aligned investor, amirite?
It feels like the financial and corporate world is moving so fast that it is hard to make an investing decision right now while the news keeps reminding us of the daunting challenges we face as a country and world.
ESG? As FWIW readers know, Elon Musk stepped up his bashing of the sector last week (and some politicians were quick to jump on the bandwagon). Then, last Friday, HSBC’s head of responsible investment criticized the finance industry for worrying too much about climate change.
Sustainability? The stock prices of oil and gas companies continue to go up while the rest of the market goes up and down like a yo-yo. Ok, mostly down. Whether it’s sustainability, diversity, inclusion, faith, gun manufacturers, nuclear energy, gender equity… we all bring our own set of values to our investing, but the volatility of the markets and the headlines can shake one to the core.
Before your anxiety levels reach Charlie Brown proportions, keep this in mind: In recent days, some industry insiders have said the ESG detractors could be doing investors a favor and the SEC is now holding some companies that have misused terms like ESG to account.
And speaking of holding companies accountable… Yesterday marked two years since George Floyd’s murder sparked widespread protests for racial justice, which in turn led many companies to make bold pledges to fight inequality. Below, we take a look at whether companies have lived up to their commitments.
Spoiler alert: Some companies are making significant inroads, but most are taking small but measurable steps in the right direction. We have a very long way to go: Black Americans continue to face significant gaps in opportunities across a wide range of areas, including in corporate America. But we’ll be watching to see how companies continue to follow through on their pledges, and have included some resources below to help you do the same.
Stick with us, and we’ll get through this labyrinth together.
News you can use
- Despite continuing criticism, consumers trust businesses more than NGOs, the government, or the media, according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer. The survey also found that 77% of consumers believe improving societal issues is a primary business function.
- Fair warning: economists say we may see persistent worldwide inflation through the rest of 2022. More than 90% of the economists surveyed by the World Economic Forum expect "high" or "very high" inflation in Europe and the U.S. to continue throughout this year.