Socially Responsible Investing

The Bigger Picture

MGM CEO James Murren on being part of something greater.

By The Editors

MGM Chairman and CEO James Murren received CR Magazine’s 2013 Responsible CEO of the Year award. He spoke onstage with CR’s CEO Elliot Clark during the 2013 COMMIT!Forum.

Elliot Clark: Jim, thank you for taking part in the 2013 Commit Forum. I want to give you a little bit about Jim’s bio. Jim grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut. He received his undergraduate degree at Trinity College, where he studied art history and urban planning. Then he went to work on Wall Street as a security analyst. He became a charter financial analyst in 1991, and was later elected to his firm’s board of directors: So a very successful career in Wall Street as a financial analyst.

He was working on the MGM Grand recapitalization when they recruited him into the company in 1998 as the CFO of MGM. He became Chief Operating Officer in 2007, and then chairman and CEO in 2008.

Continue reading →

Human Capital, Business Capital

The notion that employees are a company’s biggest asset is not a metaphor.

By Daryl Brewster

A Google search on the term “employee engagement” yields 50 million hits. That is a lot of interest in the value of people at work. This often-used term includes matching gifts, employee volunteerism, pro bono service, and fundraising, as well as myriad new, innovative programs that CECP learns more about each day as we work with our CEOs and companies.

The Washington Post recently published an article extolling the virtues of companies that provide paid time off to employees to volunteer. But how prevalent are these types of programs? Data from CECP’s Corporate Giving Standard Survey found that 70 percent of companies in 2012 had a formal paid-release time program, which is up from 53 percent in 2007, and which companies report are their most successful type of employee engagement program.

Continue reading →

Save on Taxes, Save the World

All bond issues are not created equal.

  By R. Paul Herman, Ryan Gerlach, Eddie Bernhardt and Samuel Hecker

Can you save on taxes and save the world? Investors seeking both impact and financial return can pursue this goal by considering municipal bonds that are rated highly for impact and sustainability.

Muni bonds are issued by governments (cities, counties, states, as well as regional water, wastewater and transportation systems) and non-profits (universities, hospitals, and energy firms). More than half of the $3.7 trillion in United States muni bonds are held by individual investors who seek lower risk and can benefit from no federal income tax on muni-bond interest.

Continue reading →

The Sizzle With The Stakes

Why shareholder primacy doctrine is at least myopic—and possibly delusional.

By Mark McElroy and Jo van Engelen

It is customary practice in business to subordinate corporate programs and initiatives, no matter what they are, to business strategy in some way or another. Few would dispute this—first we acknowledge strategy, then we determine how best to support it with whatever program or initiative we happen to be dealing with. One articulation of this approach, where sustainability is concerned, can be found in a 2006 Harvard Business Review article by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer. Here is how they explain the connections between corporate sustainability management (CSM) and strategy from their perspective: “A corporate social agenda looks beyond community expectations to opportunities to achieve social and economic benefits simultaneously. It moves from mitigating harm to finding ways to reinforce corporate strategy by advancing social conditions.

Continue reading →

The Donation Disclosure Decision

In an excerpt from a groundbreaking report by The Conference Board, transparency in corporate political spending is championed—case by case.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission sparked increased interest in corporate political spending and raised new questions about the role of corporations in politics and their accountability for the money they contribute to political campaigns and organizations. The 2012 elections, which promise to be contentious political contests, are sure to intensify examination of the issue even more.

Although the public, the media, and watchdog groups have focused almost exclusively on political spending by corporations, a list of the all-time largest political donors between 1989 and 2010, based on information released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in April 2011, includes only one corporation among the top 10 donors.

Continue reading →

Diaspora, Inc.

An alliance between Western Union and USAID transcends “development” to build business.

By Richard J. Crespin

As the door closed, it suddenly set in on Tony Tapia. Now he had to pick.

Tapia, the Western Union Foundation’s senior program director, had just spent the past few hours listening to pitch after pitch, entrepreneur after entrepreneur pouring their hearts out as part of the first African Diaspora Marketplace business plan competition. Designed to harness the passion, know-how, and money of the United States-based African diaspora community—people originally from Africa now living and working in the United States—the competition brought together a remarkable partnership between Western Union and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). After months of preparation and an intense day of interviews, it came down to a small conference room in Washington, D.

Continue reading →

Waking Up Wall Street

The c-suite is leading the corporate sustainability movement, but investors are starting to catch up.

By Mindy Lubber

investors as a reason why they’re not doing more on sustainability. “We’d like to do more … but mainstream investors just don’t care about it,” is the common refrain, according to a survey by Accenture on CEO attitudes.

That’s starting to change. At a recent closed-door meeting of 100 investor members of the $10 trillion Investors Network on Climate Risk, sustainability leadership was the buzz. “The theme of the day is how to move from warm words, to action, to the realm of the practical,” exhorted Anne Simpson, CalPERS’s senior portfolio manager and head of corporate governance. “Going to meetings and signing on to letters isn’t going to do anything unless we move the money.”

CalPERS should know.

Continue reading →

Charity Chain

Coordinating philanthropic efforts with suppliers can create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

By Stanley M. Bergman

Companies expect their supply chain to behave ethically, often stating the expectation in terms of “maintaining standards similar to ours.” Less common are a focus on the spirit of philanthropy that drives corporate citizenship’s best practices and an emphasis on integrating that value into supplier and customer relationships. Consumer-facing companies do this when they engage customers through a cause-related marketing campaign or another “public” sustainability effort. But where are the corporation’s suppliers in this equation? And how does this relate to a business-to-business company?

Consider a new paradigm that elevates the social and philanthropic side of corporate responsibility to a value that is shared across the supply chain.

Continue reading →

You Are What You Buy

Doing well by buying goods is a message we send to each other, and ourselves.

By Aronté Bennett* and Amitav Chakravarti

Consumers frequently encounter, and buy, products that have a corporate responsibility (CR) association. Cell phones whose manufacturers donate a portion of proceeds to cancer research would be one example. It is well documented that products with a CR-association are extremely popular among consumers, and consumers are sometimes even be willing to pay a premium for these products. However, the research on CR-associated purchase decisions—such as a signature study detailed by Tom Brown and Peter Dacin in a 1997 issue of the  Journal of Marketing—has focused on antecedents that influence evaluations and purchase decisions.

Continue reading →

U.S. Private Equity Firms Endorse Responsibility Guidelines

Members of council back U.N.-established ESG principles

By James Hyatt

The 13 members of the Private Equity Council, among the nation’s largest pools of private capital, have pledged to apply responsible investment guidelines in making their investments.

The agreement reflects discussions between the council and a number of major institutional investors, such as the California Public Employees Retirements Systems, that often are limited partners in PEC investments.

The guidelines reflect the U.N.-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, and cover environmental, health, safety, labor, governance and social issues.

The PRI initiative, launched in 2006, has been adopted by a large number of asset owners, investment managers and professional service groups around the world. The voluntary principles “provide a menu of possible actions” for bringing environmental, social and corporate governance issues into decision making.

Continue reading →