I’m someone who sincerely believes that businesses that are a force for good will, in the long term, outperform those that aren’t. With that in mind, it’s been hard to watch the continued failure of ESG investing strategies – ones that invest based on business’s environmental, social, and governance credentials. They don’t seem to succeed financially, and they don’t seem to succeed in getting businesses to behave differently.
So I was incredibly excited this week to read the new white paper from activist investors Engine No. 1, who set out a new way of thinking about ESG and a new way of making investment decisions on that basis. This week’s article is a (jargon-free, I hope!) explainer of it, and why it’s so interesting.
This week’s article
Environmental, social and governance investment strategies have been much talked about, but haven’t achieved much. One activist investment fund is trumpeting their latest model – but is it the solution that we’ve been looking for?
This week’s three interesting links
A fascinating essay by Tom Stafford on the power of domestication, something humans have done not just to plants and animals, but perhaps also to ourselves, to remarkable effect.
“Human reason is a miracle resting on top another miracle. That we can persuade with words relies on a platform of communication and understanding that has its own complex origin story. Once that niche exists, reasons acquire their own force, used for good or ill. We can try and persuade, but we risk being persuaded in turn, or even of being tricked. Of pursuing noble goals, or dedicating ourselves to great lies.”
The latest generation of university students grew up with ubiquitous search on their computers and devices like iPads and iPhones that don’t reveal the filesystem. Educators are discovering that this means that they generally don’t know where they’ve put their files:
“Garland thought it would be an easy fix. She asked each student where they’d saved their project. Could they be on the desktop? Perhaps in the shared drive? But over and over, she was met with confusion. “What are you talking about?” multiple students inquired. Not only did they not know where their files were saved – they didn’t understand the question.
“Gradually, Garland came to the same realization that many of her fellow educators have reached in the past four years: the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.”
The superb story of Ksenia Coffman:
“When Ksenia Coffman started editing Wikipedia, she was like a tourist in Buenos Aires in the 1950s. She came to learn the tango, admire the architecture, sip maté. She didn’t know there was a Nazi problem.”
Coffman is almost single-handedly dealing with Wikipedia’s Nazi problem, from overt political bias to subtle glorification of “war heroes”. Wikipedia is full of unsung heroes like Coffman; I linked last year to a piece celebrating them that’s worth a revisit. #