Way Before ESG

Bob Eng |

In the late 1980s, I encountered the idea of doing good as an investor, instead of simply doing well. This was shortly after Amy Domini and Peter Kinder published their pioneering book, Ethical Investing, and three decades before the idea of investing and doing good captured the imagination and dollars of investors around the world. As an investment professional stepping away from the industry to get a doctorate in moral psychology, I was excited to learn that others were already exploring the connections between finance and social good.

The authors made two powerful assertions in their book that struck a deep chord: 

  • Every investment has an ethical dimension 
  • Investors can and should apply ethical standards to potential investments 

When I landed at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to begin my doctoral studies, I discovered that none other than Amy Domini was teaching in town (where, I later learned, she made her home). I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to take a class with her. Amy, a true visionary and trailblazer, has gone on to do big things, such as creating the KLD 400 Social Index. Today, as we talk and do sustainable and ESG investing, we stand on the shoulders of giants like Amy who paved the way.