What does yoga have to do with investing? On the surface, it might seem the answer is “nothing.” When you think of yoga, you might imagine a wiry, flexible person who has contorted themselves into a pretzel, or maybe a sweaty, fit person in a hot yoga class. I certainly did. However, maintaining a “yoga practice” is not just about doing physical postures. The practice of yoga is a process of recognizing the connection between body, mind and spirit. At its core, yoga is a process of self-realization, a process through which one expands “awareness from a limited sense of Self to a sense of the eternal True Self,” according to Patanjali, the author of one of the oldest complete texts on yoga. It’s through this connection to the self that we experience a connection to others. Stated another way, through this process we begin to see how our individual actions have an impact on the broader world (or through the lens of finance, the broader economy).
Sustainable investing is a similar acknowledgement. It’s recognizing that we are part of a larger community and that our actions reverberate throughout the world. It’s a process that recognizes the way we allocate our capital will have an impact beyond what we can see and calculate today. For example: What happens to productivity when a company takes the time to ensure its employees work in a safe, clean environment and are given opportunities for personal growth? What happens when a company spends time thinking about corporate governance issues? How do these efforts improve their relationships with their employees and their investors? For management, this might mean facing the truth that your core business is in a stage of decline and it is time to either reinvent yourself or return the capital.
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