CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon speak with Eric Cohen, chairperson for Investors against Genocide and Tim Smith, senior vice president at Walden Asset Management and immediate past chair of the Social Investment Forum, about the campaign promoting targeted divestment by mutual funds from companies supporting the Khartoum regime in the Sudan.
Smith, who helped pioneer the practice of shareholder activism encouraging companies to adopt more sustainable and responsible practices as a founder of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, discusses the novelty and efficacy of engaging mutual funds, which has rarely been practiced until now.
Cohen explains the strategy in-depth, noting that the SEC upheld its validity after mutual fund giant Fidelity challenged it legally. He also cites a 2007 survey in which 71% of respondents said that mutual fund companies should take into account extreme cases of human rights abuses when investing overseas, rather than make their investment decisions on economic criteria alone.
Corporate Watchdog Radio co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon speak with John Elkington, author of The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the World. Elkington explains how social entrepreneurs use business strategies, such as scaling and replicability, to help solve social and environmental problems. He also discusses how this book finishes his trilogy, starting with Cannibals with Forks from 1997 that coined the term “triple bottom line” for measuring social, environmental, and economic progress and The Chrysalis Economy that predicts a 30-year period of creative destruction for business. Elkington founded the UK consultancy SustainAbility in 1987, which helped define the term “sustainability,” and recently received a grant to support its work on social entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation and also received a Fast Company Social Entrepreneur Award.
Every month all over the globe, people interested in the environment and sustainability get together for “Green Drinks” to schmooze and network. Today on CWR, hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon go to their local Green Drinks gathering at the Northampton Brewery in Northampton, Massachusetts. There, they talk with John Meyercak of the Center for Ecological Technology, based in Northampton, about CET projects like ReStore, which sells second-hand building materials.
Then Chris Landry of the Sustainability Institute in Hartland, Vermont talks about balancing the need to support small farmers in developing nations with fair trade while also fostering living local economies in developed nations. We also hear about the Sustainability Institute’s “Climate Bathtub”.
Also, Francesca Rheannon talks with award-winning business journalist for the New York Times, Louis Uchitelle about his book The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. It was published in 2006, but with the US facing what could be a long recession, followed by what some experts think might be a “jobless recovery”, The Disposable American is as relevant today as it was when it was published. We talk about how layoffs devastate workers and communities — and also how they hurt businesses.
Vermont State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding delivered the opening address at the launching of the Marlboro College Graduate Center MBA in Managing for Sustainability program in Vermont where CWR co-host Bill Baue teaches. The talk was entitled, “Sustainability and State Finance: Strategic Decision-Making and ‘Win-Win’ Strategies.” Spaulding discussed a number of different ways the state uses its investment assets to leverage corporate sustainability and responsibility, from aggressively voting its proxies to filing shareholder resolutions addressing issues such as Sudan and climate change to participating in the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a group of institutional investors launched by Ceres in 2003 to promote sustainable business practices. He also explains the complexities of implementing green investing through board-run state pension funds.