March 3, 2023

In the latest convergence of ESG and BSAU, “the US Senate voted to overturn a Labor Department rule that permits fiduciary retirement fund managers to consider environmental, social, and corporate governance, or ESG, factors in their investment decisions.”

It was a bizarre move. The rule in question merely permits fiduciaries to consider ESG factors—it doesn’t even require them to do anything about it. So in effect this bill bans consideration of certain material risk factors—which could affect the well-being of people’s pension plans. (Which, perversely, was the argument of the Ban-The-ESG crowd.)

President Biden has vowed a veto, but four senators didn’t vote, which would have produced a tie, which would have let VP Kamala Harris break the tie. (How did your Senator vote? You might want to let them know what you think about that. And remember, appreciation matters as much as complaint.)

On its face, this is another round in the endless, misguided dance over whether business can both do good—for the world—and do well—for investors. From my 30+ years experience advising some of the world’s best companies, I’m clear that it can; the commitment to good—if wisely designed and brilliantly executed—can deliver significant profit in both near and long term. (How significant? In the words of one of our clients: “Massive.”)

But in the common [extractive] wisdom of our capital-ist world these commitments are inevitably in conflict, which I guess leaves us the choice of either (a) society forcing companies to do good via regulations, incentives, and direct action, or (b) or companies saying the hell with the social weal. (And, actually, (c) endlessly struggling to strike the least miserable “balance” between the two.)

Option (d) is far more interesting to me. Let’s ask ourselves:

“What might it be like if we did business as though we actually belong to the living world. And each other?”

Want to know what I *really* think? Listen to me on this week’s Earth911 podcast with Mitch Ratcliffe, and on the All Together Now radio show with Eleanor LeCain and Andrew Boyd.

Want to have me generate some Good Trouble in your life, company, or city? Click one of the links below, or give me a call.

Meanwhile, thank you for who you are, what you do in service of “a world that works for the ongoing well-being of the living world to which we belong, and the beings with whom we share this world, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense, or the disadvantage of any.”

I’m positive that what you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count.
– R. Buckminster Fuller
In solidarity,

Gil Philip Friend
CEO, Natural Logic, Inc.
Managing Director, Critical Path Capital
Leadership Coach, Trimtab4Trimtabs™
Global Keynote Speaker — Book me now!
Tel: 1-510-248-4940 | Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter | Mastodon | YouTube

PS: Please join us March 15 for our latest Living Between Worlds zoominar, when Bill Baue will start us off with a look at how network structures influence the dynamics of change.

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