From the Blog
As asset owners and shareholders, public pension funds and university endowments are in a unique position to influence companies' social, environmental, and human rights practices.
The pressure of demonstrating strong quarterly earnings to investors can cause companies to forgo long-term human rights and sustainability objectives. A conversation is now emerging about how fiduciaries - public and corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowments, and foundations - can practice "ethical investing." Ethical investing encourages fiduciaries to encourage respect for human rights, the environment, and other sustainability factors in their investments. Yet there is little consensus on how to define and measure ethical investing practices and insufficient comparative data about company performance on human rights.
In March 2017, the Center published Putting the 'S' in ESG: Measuring Human Rights Performance for Investors, an in depth study examining 12 leading frameworks for assessing companies’ social practices and impacts. It finds that current measurement is overly deferential to companies to voluntary disclose the efforts they undertake on a wide range of poorly defined “social” activities, rather than measuring their real-world effects.
What the Center is doing
The Center has partnered with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and its Compass program. RFK Compass brings together fiduciaries – public and corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, university endowments, and foundations – to advance ethical investing strategies. RFK Compass starts from the premise that considering human rights helps manage risk and enhances investment performance over the long term. The Center conducts programming to educate fiduciaries about the business and human rights framework and specific human rights challenges at each RFK Compass conference.
Writing and Advocacy
- Posner, Michael. “Divestment Campaigns.” New York Times Sunday Dialogue, May 2, 2015.
- Posner, Michael. “Universities Can Put Their Economic Clout to Good Use.” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 17, 2014.
- Posner, Michael. “Universities Can Lead in Transforming Human Rights.” Speech, University of Michigan, October 10, 2014.
RFK Human Rights and its Compass program are equipping investors to support companies that advance human rights.