How to put wind in the labor movement’s sails
Sep 05, 2022
Edward M. Smith, president and CEO of Ullico, the nation’s only union-owned insurance and investment company.
On this Labor Day, many will rightfully cheer a union renaissance as workers from Amazon to Starbucks unite to win contracts in a battle against an enormous amount of money and power levied against them.
But for workers to have more than just a fighting chance, they must have more money and power on their side. A start would be to better inform and persuade one of the largest groups of investors — those who manage how the $35.5 trillion in our country’s pension funds are invested. These investors can decide to direct dollars to support corporate practices that recognize workers’ rights, thus lessening shareholder risk by supporting an empowered workforce and a stronger middle class, and by halting the use of shareholder money to fight a company’s own workforce.
That is what the practice known as ESG investing is supposed to do. Standing for environmental, social and governance, measures of corporate ESG have gained traction with investors. Money managers overseeing a third of U.S. assets under management already say they use ESG criteria to some degree in investment decisions to weigh a corporation’s risk factors compared to its peers, and that trend is expected to continue.
The problem? Social factors, the S in ESG, are too often underweighted or ignored.
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