Monthly Archives: February 2015

“Sustainable Games: The Business Model Challenge” Goes Live

NEW YORK, February, 24 2015 – Cornerstone Capital Inc., together with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), RobecoSAM and the UN Principles for Responsible Management in Education (PRME), today announced a call for university students to participate in “Sustainable Games: The Business Model Challenge.” Applicants are invited to submit business plans for new companies that can help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges in scalable and profitable ways – “Social Enterprises.”

Towards Decent Jobs and Sustainable Business: the Long Road Ahead for Walmart

Walmart surprised the markets last week when it announced, along with its year-end results, a salary increase for 500,000 of its employees, raising company minimum wages to $9 per hour in April 2015 (bringing the average wage to $13) and $10 per hour beginning February 2016. The retail giant’s financial results were otherwise unremarkable, with… Read more »

Schneider Electric and the Power of Energy Efficiency

Schneider Electric (SU) published its annual results yesterday, posting a profit increase of 2.8% and revenue growth of 6.6%. With a 170-year history, starting in metallurgy, Schneider Electric is now betting on one core element of its strategy, across all its business lines: energy efficiency. Last November, the International Energy Agency reminded markets that energy… Read more »

When last we met our “Superheroes of Capitalism” (alias: “ Sustainable Investors”), they were valiantly fighting to highlight the critical importance of analyzing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors in predicting corporate financial performance. They were coming to terms with the trade-offs inherent in taking a long-term perspective. They had acknowledged that in order to… Read more »

Moving Beyond Board Composition: Why Gender Diversity Matters to Investors

Over the past years, much of the research and discussions about gender diversity have revolved around board diversity. There are indeed a lot of studies on how businesses perform better with gender-diverse boards. When analyzing gender composition within the lower ranks of a company, RobecoSAM came across interesting data points indicating a decline of the female talent pool when moving from junior positions to senior ones.

Investing in Diversity … Painful, but Profitable

The diversity of perspective and experience that comes from having women on corporate boards and in senior management allows for more creativity, innovation, productivity and profitability than might otherwise be achieved. This is particularly crucial in a complex world, where skilled human capital and talent management is essential. Attracting, retaining, engaging, compensating, motivating and inspiring talented employees in a growth-starved world is a major challenge.

Gender Gap = Leadership Gap

The World Economic Forum in Davos just ended, and with it came news that the gender gap is alive and well, especially in the United States, which is ranked behind Nicaragua, Burundi and Latvia, just to name a few.

Now in its ninth year, the Gender Gap Index, developed by the Forum, shows progress on many fronts — but it also shows that the gap persists in terms of women’s advancement into leadership in both the private and public sectors.

The Importance of Sustainable SMEs and the Role of Women Leading this Movement

As a female entrepreneur leading a social good startup focused on growing the global marketplace for sustainable products and services through data and insights, I’ve been amazed at how many women I’ve met who are now engaged in leading values-based companies focused on one or more facets of sustainability. And by incorporating an emergent social impact business model, they are not using traditional non-profit structures to do so, but are instead integrating these values in for-profit companies that leverage capitalism for good, which I fully embrace.

Women-Led SMEs and the Finance Challenge

Women represent a powerful source of economic growth and opportunity. They produce more than half of the world’s food and control about $20 trillion in consumer spending. However, financial exclusion holds back many women from participating in the economy and from improving their lives and those of their families.

Women in emerging markets face a range of barriers and constraints to benefiting fully from financial services. The Global Findex, a comprehensive database measuring how people save, borrow, and manage risk in 148 countries . . .

Applying a Gender Lens to Philanthropically Committed Capital

In the United States, nearly $1 trillion is committed to philanthropy — sitting in foundations, donor-advised funds and elsewhere. Donors, in most cases, have transferred ownership of these funds to separate entities and received their tax deductions. Only a small percentage of those funds is expended on charitable donations for the general public good. Rather, the great majority of those resources are invested for a financial return without regard to their impact on society in general and women and minorities, in particular . . .

Venture Capital: Closing the Gender Gap

More than fifteen years ago, in 1998, as a second-year Harvard Business School student, I conducted a year-long field study on American women entrepreneurs’ access to equity capital — and in particular, venture capital. At that time, according to sources ranging from Venture One to the Small Business Administration, Women-Owned Businesses (WOBs) raised 2-2.5% of the venture capital financing in this country. This was a dismal state of affairs . . .

Accelerating Investments in Women through Certification

W+ represents a new and innovative option for a certification system that channels measureable and verifiable benefits directly to women and women’s organizations in developing nations. The W+ Standard is designed to incentivize investments in women’s empowerment through a system that both measures results and puts money into the hands of women . . .

Why Investing in Women is a Business Imperative

Currently, women own a ridiculously small percentage of the world’s assets. While entrepreneurship is not the only solution to this challenge, it is one of the best ways for women to build wealth while also creating jobs for others. It is in our collective interests to do everything we can to support women who are willing to take the risk of starting and growing a business . . .

Feminism or Genderism: Which is the Right Way?

While working for the UN and with Pakistani Army generals (coordinating local relief and recovery following the 2005 earthquake), I did a lot of learning, principally about gender planning. I saw the issue not through the lens of feminism, but through the lens of effective planning. Gender issues are only ‘mainstreamed’ when ‘gender’ is not the issue . . .

A Closer Look at Alibaba’s Corporate Governance

The recent, apparently resolved conflict between Alibaba and the Chinese government agency SAIC over counterfeit goods raises questions about whether shareholders should have confidence in the future growth of the company. With a valuation of over 30 times earnings, the market is pricing in a high degree of conviction about the company’s future growth. In… Read more »

Regional and Sector Strategy: February Update

Our regional strategy is unchanged, even with a heightened focus on monetary policies and exchange rates in the past month driven, in part, by fears of deflation. We continue to have a defensive tilt in our regional recommendations, and are Underweight the commodity-rich regions of CEEMEA and Latin America. Our sector strategy is also unchanged and remains “less cyclical, more defensive.” We maintain our relatively defensive posture given pockets of economic weakness globally. We are Overweight Health Care in North America, the U.K. and Europe ex U.K. We are Underweight or Neutral Energy in the majority of regions….