Climate change, growing inequality, and now, the coronavirus pandemic have accelerated a movement by investors to understand sustainable capitalism. Part of the equation is being able to measure companies’ impacts on people and the planet. Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse hosted Sir Ronald Cohen, an international philanthropist who has been described as the “father of social investment.”
“I think Covid is going to accelerate the advance of impact investment hugely,” Cohen said, when asked about the pandemic. “Governments are going to have huge levels of debt. They’re going to be facing sustained and high levels of unemployment. Many of he big companies that shed their labor are not going to take that labor back, because they’ve learned to operate on a slimmed down basis…There is no solution for government but to bring companies and investors alongside to show them this damage, and to create incentives through impact transparency for companies to do the right thing in regards to employment and the environment.”
Cohen is the chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment and the new Impact-Weighted Accounts Initiative, which aims to create transparent accounting statements that capture social and environmental impacts. Morse is the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics and faculty director for the Sustainable & Impact Finance Initiative at Berkeley Haas.
“New Thinking in a Pandemic: Business, Economics & Inclusion” is a twice-monthly series hosted by Berkeley Haas faculty to highlight cutting-edge, high-level thinking and analysis on a range of topics around business, economics, and equity during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. The series is streamed live on YouTube, where viewers can ask questions via chat.