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Filed under: Ethical Investing – General Background – Page 2

In Praise Of Women

 “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” Gloria Steinem

So call me sexist and discriminatory, but I generally like women more than men. I find their company and conversation more rich and varied, their presence more nurturing, inclusive and gracious. In fact, I’m wondering if women are just plain superior to men. I recall reading somewhere that the world would be better off with fewer male genes in the pool, needing only a few good ones to sustain the species, the rest being superfluous, or even counter-productive to the healthy evolution of life on earth. Am I way off base here Dr. Suzuki?

From a business or career perspective, there should no longer be any doubt that Continue…

Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

What is it about lists that so fascinates? I know I’m not alone on this, lots of people have a thing for lists. Me, I not only read them, I make them, they’re all over the place. I don’t leave home without a list. I once read a whole book of lists (it sold millions) mostly about things I didn’t even care about. It’s the top 10, or top 25, or top 100 lists that always grab my attention. I can’t resist them. So here are three lists I recently came across that at least have something to do with the responsible investment theme of this column.

The first is a report published by Ethisphere ( on the world’s “100 most ethical companies”. Continue…

Shades of Green

These are fascinating times for those of us working in the field of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI). The themes surrounding SRI have been evolving for almost 50 years now, from Ralph Nader’s fight on behalf of auto safety standards in the 60’s, to faith-based campaigns to divest from South African businesses in the 70’s, to the creation of investment management teams in the 80’s and 90’s that screened and engaged companies on behalf of the common values of shareholders.

Yet until very recently SRI was confined to the fringes of investment management, particularly here in Canada. Now there are shades and nuances that go beyond the original intent of influencing corporate behaviour, ranging from Continue…

Lending a Hand

When Muhammad Yunus loaned $27 to a group of 42 families in famine-ravaged Bangladesh in 1974, there is no way he could have envisaged how the internet might one day allow his labour to be spread around the globe. Mr. Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and driving force behind the enormously successful Grameen Bank, is the pioneer in the field of microcredit, which seeks to provide very small business loans (by western standards) to those who fly well under the radar of the established banking system, most often poor women in the developing world.

The ability of microloans to lift families out of poverty has been well documented. As of September 2007, Grameen Bank has more than Continue…

SRI – Contenders and Pretenders


With more and more corporations tripping over each other to promote sustainability as a core business value, I’d like to weigh in with my own unscientific and biased opinion on who’s leading this race, who’s in the pack but gaining, and who’s not in the race at all.

Ahead of the pack

  1. Interface – Global leader in reshaping the role of corporations
  2. SunOpta – Providing non-GMO soya edibles
  3. La Siembra – 5% dividend for supporting fair trade coffee and chocolate
  4. Whole Foods Markets – First to purchase renewable energy exclusively
  5. Philips – Reinventing the light bulb
  6. Toyota – If you need a car they are the current global innovator
  7. Carmanah Technolgies – Solar powered LED lighting hq’ed in Victoria
  8. Pacific Regeneration Technologies – Reforestation nurseries
  9. CN Rail – Rail trumps all for bulk transport but must improve safety
  10. Virgin – Richard Branson has best coiffure in business




The Evolution of SRI

I’ve seen the future of socially responsible investing, and it’s here. Well, if you live in Europe it’s here, but we’re still quite a bit behind the times in Canada, if you’ll let me explain.You see the traditional, and still prevalent approach to socially responsible investment in Canada, is to purchase an ‘ethical’ fund from one of the four or five companies in Canada that provide this kind of investment. There is nothing wrong with this strategy, and one can put together a top-flight portfolio by selecting from amongst the best offerings of Acuity, Meritas, Ethical Funds, and others.
Yet there is a certain vanilla-like quality to what is available in the Canadian marketplace, because virtually all of these funds begin constructing their portfolios with the same basic foundation. That is to start with every stock that is listed on Canadian, or US, or foreign exchanges, depending on the mandate of the fund, and then apply various screens to weed out those companies that derive their income from what are deemed to be ethically unsupportive pursuits. Think bombs, cigarettes, sweatshops, etc. Take out the bad guys, choose those companies that have demonstrated best practices and profits from what’s left, and vόila, you have an ethical mutual fund.



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