September 07, 2005
by William Baue
SRI Notes and SRI-Extra harness the strengths of weblogs to comment candidly on developments in
socially responsible investment as they happen.
A discussion tying game theory
to socially responsible business practices. A review
corralling recent developments on divestment from companies doing business with the genocidal
government of Sudan. Links to online resources on socially responsible investing (SRI) and
corporate social responsibility (CSR). These are just a few examples of what you can find at SRI Notes and SRI-Extra, two weblogs (or "blogs") devoted to SRI that
have sprung up in the past year. With the rising popularity of blogging, it was only a matter of
time before the SRI community harnessed this online communications medium.
initially dismissed blogging as a fad, but I think the medium has several advantages over other
outlets," said Lloyd Kurtz, a senior portfolio manager at Nelson Capital Management who manages the SRI Notes blog,
as well as the sristudies.org online
database of research on SRI. "First, blogs are immediate--when something happens, it's a lot
faster to put something up on a blog than it is to publish it in a newspaper, magazine or journal."
"Second, blogs cut out the middleman--bloggers can comment directly without being filtered
which can be a good thing or a bad thing," Mr. Kurtz told SocialFunds.com.
can function positively--for example, fact-checkers verifying the accuracy of statistics,
proofreaders catching typos, editors revising weak arguments, or even publishers rejecting wacko
proposals. However, they can also filter out what blog readers yearn for: unmitigated opinion,
emotional response, and speculation into the unknowable future.
"I think of the blog as a
counterpart to sristudies.org, which is a structured database or directory, while the blog provides
unstructured commentary on the underlying data," explains Mr. Kurtz.
commentary may not be appropriate in a professional workplace, but may be very valuable in
advancing the understanding of the SRI community.
"The blog functions as a place to put my
thoughts that are often independent and not immediately applicable to my current tasks," says
Graham Sinclair, a product manager at KLD Research &
Analytics who writes the SRI-Extra blog.
Mr. Kurtz and Mr. Sinclair both agree that
blogging vastly broadens the reach of their ideas.
"As a South African sitting in Boston
with colleagues and peers on four continents, I'm able to speak internationally and have quick
connections to Sydney or London or Cape Town," Mr. Sinclair told SocialFunds.com.
Notes recently increased its reach when the Center for Responsible Business (CRB) of the Haas School of Business adopted
hosting of the blog, along with the sristudies.org website and the Moskowitz Prize that
Mr. Lloyd he founded in the mid-'90s to honor the year's best research on SRI. The Haas connection
adds not only technological but also institutional resources.
"The best thing about the
Haas relationship is that I have the school's research resources and some time on campus each year
so that I can investigate issues in greater depth," said Mr. Kurtz.
Notes is the presence of several experts in the SRI field as contributors, including Steve
Lydenberg and Jeff MacDonagh of Domini Social
Investments, Paul Hilton of the Calvert
Group, and Steve Lippman of Trillium
Asset Management. While they help shape SRI's present course in their official capacities,
they can also help shape the future of SRI through their theoretical meditations.
is in a strange position--it has been around in its present form for 20 years or more, and is
gaining mainstream acceptance, but at the same time needs to evolve to keep up with client demands
and ensure that it remains relevant going forward," said Mr. Kurtz. "And things are happening very
quickly in this profession, on several continents."
"I see the blog as a way to react to
important news, set down thoughts we might otherwise lose, and to invite comments or criticism,"
concluded Mr. Kurtz.
|SocialFunds.com has added an RSS ("Really Simple Syndication") feed, the technology that
alerts readers when their favorite blogs and news sources post new content and headlines on their