Global Profit and Global Justice: Using Your Money to Change the World, by Deb Abbey, et.al., New Society Publishers
Deb Abbey, the CEO and President of Real Assets Investment Management in Canada, doesn’t pull any punches.
“If we want to change the world,” she writes “we have to aggressively pursue positive strategies and aggressively reward positive outcomes. That’s why the viewpoint of the investor or the consumer is so important. It’s up to us to hold companies accountable for the full range of their costs, and to reward them to the full extent of the benefits they provide.”
In Global Profit and Global Justice, the corporate social responsibility blueprint Abbey lays out is one we might all want to examine more closely. “The problem is that the economic structures that have emerged and their environmental and human consequences have outrun our capacity to govern them,” she admonishes. A major theme in this book is how individuals – through their consumption or philanthropy or investment choices – can help exert a moderating influence on these market forces.
Abbey turns to coffee, renewable energy, and even carpeting to provide specific examples of instances where the market – i.e., consumers – have helped persuade manufacturers to reduce environmental impacts and treat workers more humanely. She also includes personal action tips like mobilizing pension plans to influence the world we want to live in when we retire.
Her rationale? “We must change or we won’t survive. Is the marketplace a viable forum for effecting this change? The dominance of corporations in our lives means that it has to be.” We need to be social investors, she argues, in order to put our money to work – as investors, as consumers, as workers, as communities and as philanthropists – “to ensure that our return is in social as well as financial capital.”
“We must make global profit in the context of global justice a reality.”
It’s hard to argue with Abbey’s message. From her point of view, corporate social investing is about sending a message: “by choosing social investing you tell multinational corporations and financial markets that the world is changing: a healthy environment and common human dignity are not legitimate costs of doing business. They are the cornerstones of a strong and sustainable global economy.”
Abbey advocates focusing on the “good” companies in our portfolios to encourage them to become even better. In so doing, “we’ll raise the bar for everyone.”