Humane Gone Mainstream: The ESG Generation Arrives

Saturday February 27, 2021, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB

As we think about the coming months and the start of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are important lessons to consider regarding the global economy’s revitalization. This specific period of volatility will subside, but it will be replaced by a permanently shifting economic landscape in the face of climate change. Investors, specifically micro-small and medium-sized enterprises, have weathered the most challenging moments of the past year, but there is minimal safety net left. There will be an ever-increasing need to invest strategically and frugally, with magnified consequences for those who fail to adapt to emerging market trends. Therefore, the most important factors to consider are and will continue to be sustainability and frugal innovation.

How do we incorporate these ideals into the increasingly volatile business ecosystem? Morgan Stanley Investment team addresses this in a recent investment report,

“A holistic approach to sustainability—concerning disruptive change, financial strength, environmental and social externalities, and governance (also referred to as ESG)—helps us identify investment opportunities. The Global Opportunity Team has been investing since 2006 with continual evolution and innovation.”

This focus on ESG shows a significant shift underway that emphasizes human-centered (humane) investment and begins to change the emphasis on business development from quantity to quality. Finding ways to standardize these practices and create opportunities to expand at scale will be crucial in capitalizing on this emerging market.

However, the ongoing change within the business world cannot be confined to strictly environmental factors. We are on the cusp of an era that is pressured by younger generations with radically different ideas about the future than the people who have come before. The emergence of social media and the creation of “going viral” has permanently altered the business world’s fundamentals and how we relate to one another.

The increasingly prominent role that business schools play in university settings reinforces the coming generational shift and thought revolution. The rise of a new age of business ideas and the development of humane and sustainable investment strategies are inextricably bound to the explosion of business schools across the country, and the increasing role business and finance have in popular culture. Business found a way to go mainstream, and we’ve seen the consequences of this unfold, most recently with the Wall Street Bets and the un-traditional exploitation of the stock market by a group of individuals on the internet. The next step is finding ways to use the incredible grassroots energy and exposure to push humane, sustainable business and investment strategies instead of risky short-term stock blitzes. The education sector will have a pivotal role to play in discovering and standardizing methods like ESG.

These factors show that there is a desperate need for a new and innovative way of approaching investments. The individuals and businesses that can take advantage of these innovations will be positioned to succeed despite uncertain times ahead. Growing evidence suggests that ESG factors, when integrated into investment analysis and portfolio construction, offer investors long-term performance advantages. But people must be put in a position to succeed. I believe in creating space for like-minded individuals and businesses to collaborate on mutually beneficial ways of re-creating the business ecosystem in a more just and humane image.

Let us welcome the ESG Generation powered by Humane Entrepreneurship.

I have been anxiously waiting for you.

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