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18 Jun 2020

Leslie P. Norton, Barron's

Two investor initiatives release statements on dismantling systemic racism

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"How investors can dismantle racism," 18 June 2020

Two groups influential in the responsible investing community are circulating statements identifying strategies that large investors can use to dismantle systemic racism. The first, penned by Confluence Philanthropy and dubbed “The 2020 Belonging Pledge,” asks for investors to commit to discussing racial equality at their next investment committee meeting. It has been signed by more than 70 organizations representing $543 billion in assets under management.

... The second, from the Racial Justice Investing Coalition, is more ambitious, stating: “We...take responsibility and commit to hold ourselves accountable for dismantling systemic racism and promoting racial equity and justice through our investments and work.” The group asks signatories to commit to a five-point plan that includes actively including black voices in company engagements, committing to integrating racial justice into investment decision-making, reviewing portfolio holdings to identify investments that reinforce systemic racism, and establish targets to either engage with or divest from issuers “that further systemic racism or white supremacy, or that enable state violence and criminalization."

... We want to see CEOs out in front making the business case for inclusion and equity, saying this is mission-critical for us,” says Pat Tomaino, director of socially responsible investing for Boston-based Zevin Asset Management, which oversees $500 million... Tomaino says the specific plan “directly addresses” questions he gets from foundations and public pension clients “who understand they have a lot of money to invest and are pressured by their constituencies to make sure that money is not doing harm to black and brown people in this country.”