July 28, 2006
The Pages of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility
by Bill Baue
Books addressing climate change dominate the fourth annual SocialFunds.com Summer Reading List
recommended by socially responsible investing and corporate social responsibility leaders.
Summer reading is synonymous with sitting on a hot beach, soaking in the sun's rays while absorbed
in a new thriller or sci-fi classic or even a work-related book--one looking at the bigger-picture
that we lack the time to read on the job. This summer may find readers seeking refuge from the sun
instead, judging from the predominant theme in SocialFunds.com's fourth annual Summer Reading List
of recommendations from leaders in socially responsible investing (SRI) and corporate social
Climate change emerged as the primary concern of the
recommended titles. Luckily, the books not only identify the problem, but also offer some
solutions--besides simply hiding in the shade.
Leslie Lowe, director of the energy and
environment program at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), recommends The Weather Makers (2006
Atlantic Monthly Press) by paleontologist Tim Flannery.
"It's an excellent discussion of
the evidence supporting the science of climate change, the implications for our survival, and
alternative visions of our future," Ms. Lowe told SocialFunds.com.
Many reviews pair this
title with Field Notes from a
Catastrophe (2006 Bloomsbury), in which New Yorker reporter Elizabeth Kolbert
tackles the issue of global warming after traveling around the world. The book, recommended by Amy
Davidsen, director of environmental affairs for
JPMorgan Chase, made it onto the seventh annual JPMorgan Private Bank Summer Reading List for its clients.
Ms. Davidsen also
recommends Avoiding Dangerous Climate
Change (2006 Cambridge University Press), a collection of essays by environmental experts
resulting from a 2005 conference by
the same name hosted by the UK Government. British Prime Minister Tony Blair contributes the
Foreword and Secretary of State for the Environment Margaret Beckett a Ministerial Address.
"Mrs. Beckett and the book's distinguished authors intelligently address climate change and,
more importantly, recommend ways to slow the damaging effects that can be caused by carbon
emissions," Ms. Davidsen told SocialFunds.com.
Also from the UK comes a recommendation of
James Lovelock's The Revenge of Gaia (2006
Basic Books) from Emma Howard Boyd, head of SRI and Governance at Jupiter Asset Management and former chair of the UK
Social Investment Forum (UKSIF). Ms. Boyd
heard about the book on a BBC interview with the author, who in 1979 posited the Gaia theory that
the earth and its inhabitants are one interconnected organism and is now renowned for embracing
nuclear energy as a last hope to reduce carbon emissions and avert climate disaster.
was expecting more of a grumpy old man with a doom and gloom outlook, but he had a twinkle in his
eye and a wonderful optimism within all that he said, despite the pessimistic forecast--there are
still things we can do," Ms. Boyd told SocialFunds.com.
Mindy Lubber, who as president of
Ceres is one of the most effective proponents
of companies addressing climate change, recommends a book not about global warming but about
cooking the books: The Number (2003 Random
House) by New York Times reporter Alex Berenson.
"It's an insightful,
highly-readable analysis of Wall Street and corporate America's obsession with quarterly financial
results and how it is diminishing the market's ability to evaluate what companies are really
supposed to do--build profitable businesses with sustainable futures," Ms. Lubber told
David Satterthwaite, CEO of Prisma MicroFinance and founder of online
microfinance information resource MicroCapital, recommends Effective Management of Social
Enterprises (2006 Harvard Center for Latin American Studies), with editorial coordination
by the Social Enterprise Knowledge Network (S
"As a manger of two social enterprises, I found the book important because it
provides practical examples of how other social entrepreneurs turn their civil mission into a
competitive advantage in the marketplace," Mr. Satterthwaite told SocialFunds.com. "Additionally,
the book examines social enterprises within the context of emerging markets."
Lloyd Kurtz, SRI portfolio manager at Nelson Capital Management, recently picked up a copy of
Albert Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty
(2006 edition Harvard University Press) on recommendation from Georgetown professor Pietra Rivoli.
(Mr. Kurtz highly recommends Prof. Rivoli's The Travels of a T-Shirt in the
Global Economy (2005 Wiley), but Social Investment Forum President Tim Smith beat him to the
punch in last year's SocialFunds.com Summer Reading List.)
"Hirschman outlines two basic
strategies--exit, which is the classic economic response, and voice, which is more political in
nature," Mr. Kurtz told SocialFunds.com. "Which strategy you follow depends on loyalty, which for
Hirschman means your reasoned judgment of the likelihood that the organization will do the right
thing at some point in the future."
The book was written in the early 1970s, before the
SRI movement had gained traction.
"But its theme--how we should respond when organizations
engage in objectionable behavior--is at the heart of what SRI does," added Mr. Kurtz, who founded
the Moskowitz Prize, maintains the SRIstudies database on SRI research, and writes the SRI Notes blog. "Short, readable, and relevant,
Exit, Voice, and Loyalty was well-received when it was first published, and deserves a