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July 29, 2002
Conference to Consider the Business Case for SRI
    by William Baue

Institutional investors will discuss SRI at the Green Mountain SRI Summit, to be held in Stowe, Vermont in September.

In the post-Enron world of corporate governance scandals, investors are searching for ways to identify risk. Socially responsible investing (SRI) represents one such strategy. SRI assesses a company's social, environmental, and corporate governance performance, and various studies have shown that these factors correlate with financial performance. Investors who wish to inform themselves about all aspects of socially responsible investing, from screening and shareowner advocacy to environmental, faith-based, and community investing, will be able to do so at the upcoming Green Mountain SRI Summit.

"In light of the wave of scandals, the Green Mountain SRI Summit provides an opportunity for socially concerned investors to discuss in detail some of the urgent issues facing us," Social Investment Forum (SIF) President Timothy Smith told

The summit will take place September 8 to 10, 2002 in Stowe, Vermont. Information Management Network (IMN), global organizers of institutional finance and investment conferences, will produce the summit. Green Century Funds, Vermont Business for Social Responsibility (VBSR), and SRI World Group are providing assistance in holding the summit.

On the Sunday afternoon before the official opening of the conference, institutional investors will gather to discuss why and how they can apply SRI strategies to their portfolios. Peg O'Hara, the managing director of the Council of Institutional Investors (CII), will moderate the first session. CII does not address social issues, but it publicly supports the notion of corporate social responsibility. In September 2001, the Council voted unanimously to add a corporate responsibility policy to its corporate governance policies.

"The Council believes that the promotion, adoption and effective implementation of guidelines for the responsible conduct of business and business relationships are consistent with the fiduciary responsibility of protecting long-term investment interests," the policy reads.

SRI advocates have long held that good corporate citizens are more likely to perform better financially than their average or below average peers. This was supported recently by the one-year results of the Triple Bottom Line Simulation. In the Triple Bottom Line Simulation, institutional treasurers have been simulating the investment of $100 million in five different, 100 percent SRI portfolios. The one-year results, announced in June 2002, revealed that three of the five portfolios outperformed their benchmarks.

While academic studies have shown a correlation between good social and environmental performance and good financial performance, they have yet to show a causal relationship. Nevertheless, a link has been established. Incorporating social and environmental performance assessment into the investment process may eventually be viewed as fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities.

The $20 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds (CRPTF) operate from this position, as explained by their Assistant Treasurer for Policy Meredith Miller.

"The bottom line is that if a public fund does its due diligence, taking into account and understanding that the social, environmental and economic implications of investments have an impact on the financial bottom line, . . . then we believe it's possible to not only pursue your fiduciary duty, but that it's part of your fiduciary duty," said Ms. Miller, who is a panelist on Sunday's second session.

"Frankly, this summit will be valuable because there will be in-depth discussions about academic and practitioner data concerning how corporate responsibility practices add to the financial bottom line," Ms. Miller concluded.


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