Right on the money
Well now. Here’s a thing. Inflows to so-called “anti-ESG” funds in the US have tailed off…dramatically. A number of news sources this week report Morningstar research showing that inflows to around 26 anti-ESG funds—those that performatively eschew the use of anything suggestive of ESG principles—have dropped from $375m in Q3 of last year to $100m in the first quarter of 2023.
It wasn’t that long ago that ESG scourge and presidential hopeful/maybe/wannabe and long shot Vivek Ramaswamy (pictured), founder of his own anti-ESG funds, was denouncing “woke capitalism”, declaring it risk averse and leading to censorship and discrimination.
Now, far be it from us to say anti-ESG is on its last long lunch, but it seems some investors are voting with their feet and sending their money elsewhere. Tough environment for anti-ESG right now.
Resign of the times
“CEOs must reinvent the workplace…” So says PwC, global professional services firm, after drawing conclusions from a survey which finds that the “great resignation” is still under way, with one in four workers looking for a new job.
The trouble for employers is that the pandemic gave people the idea that there might be more to life than work, or that work should be about more than the pay cheque, and the cost of living crisis has got everyone concerned about their income. Employers, on the other hand, are worried about staff retention and finding youngsters who want to work for them. More pay and more meaning, in other words.
“C-suites must listen to their people today if they are to create a viable workforce of the future, for tomorrow,” says Pete Brown, leader of global people and organisation at PwC. Ping pong tables and playground slides to the cafeteria won’t cut it.
Let’s talk about SEC
To the US, where the country’s chief financial watchdog—the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)—has been fine-tuning a much contested set of climate risk disclosure standards for stateside companies.
Now, in any debate in the US right now, the sign of one group of people being highly irate about something is their propensity to say that it is “unconstitutional”.
So it is with the latest bit of thought leadership on those disclosure rules. Prof Donald Kochan of George Mason University in Virginia writes that the SEC is on shaky ground: not only is it questionable whether Congress “delegated” powers to the SEC to do what it is doing, but also whether Congress went a bit beyond its own powers if it did so.
Now, from a lay person’s point of view, constitutional debate is, of course, endlessly fascinating. Some of us drool over it. But this one does sound a bit like the boy standing on the burning deck and asking whether the thoughtful people who called the fire brigade were a bit presumptuous because they weren’t asked to dial 911 (999 in UK parlance) and, in any case, they may have stepped a bit beyond their own authority when they picked up the phone. Can anyone else smell smoke?