Big scary corporations and banks are often accused of being unethical in their thirst for the big bucks. But things seems to be changing with the rise of Activist Investors, unafraid of addressing the uncomfortable issues of ethics, social responsibility and environment. Arjuna Capital is leading the way. 

Being environmentally friendly is not on the list for many companies out there. This trend, however, is slightly changing towards a more responsible approach to doing business. Venture Capital firms like Arjuna Capital are at the forefront of driving this change.

Arjuna Capital is a sustainable wealth management firm that works with their clients to invest in the world they want to live in, integrating their goals, values and hopes for the future.

Enlightened investors understand that economic vitality, environmental responsibility, and social justice are all “bottom line” concerns. This is what “sustainability” means. Arjuna Capital’s investment strategies seek to provide competitive financial returns while promoting a more vibrant economy, a healthier environment, and a more just society.

Our purpose: enlightened engagement in the capital markets

What’s in a name? (and in a logo)

Arjuna is the hero of the ancient Indian epic poem, the Mahabharata. In one section of the poem known as the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, a famed warrior, asks Krishna to help him determine the path of right action in a morally complex world. Arjuna is portrayed as a revered leader, skilled archer and a champion of enlightened engagement in society.

Arjuna’s clients seek to invest in ways that further both their own financial wellbeing and the health of society. The epic figure Arjuna embodies both this more encompassing, enlightened vision and the skill to put it into effective action.


All for a worthy cause

Although shareholder activism has been around for 30 years, the amount of activism has risen to unseen levels in recent years, according to the Economist. Such activism is what moves companies like Arjuna Capital forward. People don’t just want to be successful investors anymore, they want to be environmentally/ethically/socially conscious and make investments that would help this cause as well as help their finances.

The issues Arjuna Capital addresses include gender pay equity, carbon asset risk, fugitive methane emissions and distributed energy. The clients of Arjuna Capital even have access to a full suite of fossil-fuel-free investments across the public and private, debt and equity markets. Pretty impressive, huh?

The woman at the front-line of activist investment 

Natasha Lamb is the woman behind Arjuna Capital. She holds an MBA in sustainable business from Pinchot University. After graduating, she worked as a VP and equity analyst at the Boston-based Trillium Asset Management, which she describes as “one of the first sustainable investment firms in the country.” In 2013 she cofounded Arjuna with two managing partners – Farnum Brown and Adam Seitchik.

Adam Seitchik, Chief Investment Officer at Arjuna Capital shared his thoughts on Natasha and her incredible work:

“I recruited Natasha as an investment intern while she was pursuing her MBA in sustainable business. These internships are very high level, as they focus on independent work — new stock discovery integrating environment, social and financial analysis of companies. She was by far the most high performing intern and we jumped at the opportunity to hire her on as a full-time analyst. Natasha brings lots of skills to the table and is growing and expanding her reach.

She will have high impact no matter what she is doing or where she is doing it

Equal pay issue is one that Lamb fights for restlessly. “I’m so heartened to see the momentum and how many companies have stepped up and made strong commitments,” she said. “Equal pay disclosures will become a best practice. It’s just time.” Silicon Valley backs her on this one. After all, Gender Pay Equity is not only good for women, it’s good for business – paying women a fair wage is key to attracting and retaining top talent, fostering diverse leadership teams, innovation, and stronger financial outcomes.

All together, the issues Arjuna tackles are called ESG, which stands for environmental, social and governance. Arjuna Capital widens the aperture to include the ESG risks and opportunities in fundamental investment analysis. ESG risks and opportunities are often missed by the broader market. Research indicates that incorporating these factors can enhance long-term financial performance. At some point it won’t be called ESG investing. It will just be called smart investing.

 

For too long, investors have been told that seeking environmental responsibility in one’s investments must come at the expense of financial return.

That trend is clearly switching. Of course, it’s not just about helping the clients choose the most socially responsible companies to invest in. It’s also about engaging with companies that Arjuna’s clients are invested in, and trying to drive change. That, of course, is not so easy. Disclosing information on such sensitive issues as gender pay equity is not exactly what many companies are ready to open up about.

Still, the fact that such firms as Arjuna Capital exist and prosper is a giving more than hope in the future of ESG investing. 

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