In or out? Action through (dis)engagement

At the risk of parody of the SCOTUS, at least for the time being it appears that money is speech. That is a frightening prospect when we are talking about free and fair elections and the orderly and ethical functioning of government. In commerce and the capital markets though, nothing speaks as loudly as the almighty dollar, and that is a good thing. Customers speak to companies through their spending patterns. Behaviors are shut down or reinforced based on how customer dollars flow. This has been a particularly active period, with customers manifesting their support for or displeasure with a wide range of companies. Curiously, it has been apparel companies most prominently in the headlines the last few months, from L.L. Bean to Under Armour, and now REI. It may be the extent to which customers are more engaged, or brand ambassadors are more passionate spokespeople, or simply how fickle and fleeting customer loyalty is in the world of fashion and apparel.

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Trompe l’oeil

Our latest article, entitled “Navigating the Moral Maze of Impact Investing” has appeared in CityWire USA’s January 30, 2017 issue. Click here to read it. You can also always find our articles and other mentions on our Libraries and Links page.

The original title of the article was “Trompe l’oeil”. For the non-Francophones in our readership, it is a French expression that loosely translates to a “trick of the eye”. It is frequently used to describe a work of art in which the artist has used a variety of techniques to create the illusion of three-dimensionality. In the context of impact investing, we used it to refer to what we might also more casually call window-dressing. We challenge our readers to discern between the illusion created by feel-good talking points about portfolio holdings and measurable and material positive change created through investment and engagement.