Is God an ethical investor?

It's becoming increasingly common for religious investors to practice what they preach

Organized, and even disorganized, religion oversees large amounts of assets. From the centuries of wealth accumulated by the Roman Catholic Church, to the Church of Scientology’s operating as a lucrative business that pays its recruiters from new-member revenues, churches are rich.

This leads inevitably to the question of whether, as investors, it is possible to serve God and Mammon – to manage material wealth in line with the principles of faith.

In a world where environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are increasingly seen as financially material by mainstream investors, are religious investors any different?

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New Year’s resolution

Multinational firms are grappling with the challenges and opportunities presented by the Sustainable Development Goals.

In late 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of aspirations for the world to realize by 2030, calling them the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To the cynic, they read as just another set of UN promises that are destined to sit on a dusty shelf somewhere.

These 17 goals, however, are just the headlines to a detailed framework with 169 measurable targets for each member country to reach. The targets are designed to make it feasible and realistic for entities such as states and companies to work out strategies towards achieving the goals.

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A different kind of board

By Sophia Grene
German corporate governance laws involve worker representation through a model known as Mitbestimmung.

In recent years, corporate governance mavens have focused a great deal of attention on board composition. In particular, diversity has become the shibboleth of good corporate governance, with an assumption that improved oversight and better decision-making will flow from a more diverse board.

Although gender has been the key dimension for diversification in the U.K. and North America, there are other ways to approach the issue.

In Germany and other continental European countries, one form of board diversity has been baked into corporate structures for many years. The system of codetermination brings worker representatives onto boards, ensuring the voice of workers is heard alongside that of management and shareholders.

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Top company profile: Siemens

The iconic German firm hasn’t wavered in its deep-rooted focus on sustainability.

Werner von Siemens would have celebrated his 200th birthday on December 13, 2016. In his memory, the company he founded (now probably unrecognizable to its progenitor) held a gala event at its headquarters in Berlin, attended by luminaries from Chancellor Angela Merkel down.

With such longevity, it is unsurprising that Siemens feels sustainability is a core part of its culture. Indeed, von Siemens himself set the tone with his declaration that “I won’t sell the future for short-term profit.”

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