Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Path Forward for Social Finance

Today the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance issued a call to action outlining a path forward in mobilizing $30 billion in Canadian financial support for social enterprises and social-purpose businesses.  The field of social finance aims to mobilize private financial capital to fund companies whose core purpose is to address environmental and social issues.  Social finance is different from traditional finance because it emphasizes 'blended value' - the concept that investing in social purpose businesses can provide a social and/or environmental benefit, as well as a financial benefit.

The Task Force (made up of ten of Canada's social finance leaders) is grappling with 1) how to unlock new sources of capital for social enterprises, 2) how to make it easier for charities and non-profits to generate much needed operating revenue from for-profit enterprises, and 3) how to create a universe of high quality, investment-ready social enterprises for the institutional investor market.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sustainability Index - Friend or Foe?

Goldcorp Inc. has been added to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).  It's a company with a checkered past.  And while Goldcorp has taken steps to improve its human rights practices as of late, its listing on the DJSI led me to wonder, are sustainability indexes good or bad when choosing to invest in sustainable and socially responsible companies?

When companies like Goldcorp or BP Plc. are added to the DJSI, or any other sustainability or corporate social responsibility (CSR) index for that matter, it always seems to raise the ire of critics.  Does listing on the DJSI simply give companies an unwarranted stamp of approval?

In my opinion, yes and no.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Goldcorp Takes Step Forward with Human Rights Policy

One of Canada's highly scrutinized gold miners, Goldcorp Inc., has released its long awaited Human Rights Policy, as well as a more general Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy this week.  The documents were developed following a long process undertaken by Goldcorp to conduct a Human Rights Assessment of its Marlin mine in Guatemala.

The company, local community members and international activists have been at odds for years over issues like water, land rights and royalty payments at the Marlin mine.  The polarized positioning of both sides created a challenging problem for responsible investors:  Do you 'cut and run' by selling your shares in Goldcorp, essentially washing your hands of the situation, or do you use your influence to initiate change?