The U.S. Department of Labor was expressing “an outdated view” when it issued guidelines on Monday that served to warn people away from impact investing, the Global Investing Network (GIIN) said on Friday.
“These guidelines unfortunately reflect an outdated view that understands the priority of the investor to be maximization of short-term shareholder profits over everything else,” said Abhilash Mudaliar, GIIN’s research director, in a released statement. “In recent years, this conventional wisdom has been widely challenged and repeatedly shown to be inconsistent with long-term, sustainable investment success, which is also reflected in the significant growth of various practices ranging from ESG investing to impact investing to corporate social responsibility to conscious capitalism.”
The DOL guidelines said investments based on environmental, social and governance issues aren’t always a “prudent choice,” adding that the investments shouldn’t “too readily” be considered as economically relevant by fiduciaries.
The guidance surprised many in the investment community, partly because investors, both individuals and institutions, have shown an increasing interest in tying social, environmental and corporate governance issues to their investments.
“Prudent investment decision-making takes into consideration the long-term impact of the investment decision on all affected stakeholders — including customers, suppliers, the natural environment and, of course, shareholders,” Mudaliar said. “It stands to reason then that ESG factors are material to business and financial performance and this has, indeed, been demonstrated by a large body of research.”
GIIN is a global network of impact investors whose lead supporters include the Rockefeller Foundation, Prudential and the Ford Foundation, according to the organization’s website.