by Mary Malone
The term environmental social governance (ESG) investing is relatively new. As described in Forbes,
[An] approach that is slowly on the rise is ESG activism, where an activist fund will take a position in the security of a company with the aim of campaigning to make its business better in terms of governance, less environmentally unfriendly and more socially responsible.
But the concept of morally selective investing is not totally new, as it gained a good deal of traction in the 1950s, particularly among labor unions. Trade unions recognized that their shared capital could be focused on investments that would ideally provide returns beneficial (or so they perceived) in areas such as affordable housing or education.
Unions and the concept of ESG remain connected today. An ESG-centric investment selection, if made compulsory, could become, to provide a loose comparison, the fund lineup equivalent of a labor union.