What is Socially Responsible Investing?

Social investors recognize that every financial transaction has social implications as well as monetary ones. While traditional investing is aimed exclusively at maximizing financial value, social investing takes account of both financial and social bottom lines. Socially responsible investing can be a catalyst for positive social change or merely a way to help the investor sleep better at night. See our services »

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News & Blog

Spring 2015 Edition of The Clean Yield Now Online

March 18, 2015

The Winter edition of The Clean Yield is now online and available on PDF.

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When B Corp Met Wall Street

March 18, 2015

If Unilever follows up its B Corp flirtation with a real commitment, it will become the third, and by far most prominent, public corporation to join the movement. Will Wall Street allow it?

CYAM - B Corp-ULVR-Wall St image copyIf a corporation really is a person, then becoming a B Corp was a peak moment in our company’s “life.” Clean Yield proudly wears the B Corp logo on our sleeve and our home page. Our commitment to serving more than just the bottom line had been literally certified by an outside body whose standards were designed to weed out the greenwashers. (We’re also thrilled that several of our high-impact investments, including SunCommon and Iroquois Valley Farms, are B Corps, and Vermont Smoke & Cure is on its way.)

Benefit corporations and their first certifying body, B Lab, have been around for a decade. The B Corp phenomenon gradually picked up steam and now encompasses a growing list of large names, such as Kickstarter, Green Mountain Power, Seventh Generation, actress Jessica Alba’s Honest Company, and Jelly, the new venture from Biz Stone (that’s Mr. Twitter to you). Two among the 1,200-plus B Corps in 33 countries are publicly traded corporations — Natura, a Brazilian cosmetics manufacturer with 7,000 employees and $2.65 billion in revenues; and Etsy, an online marketplace for crafts that just went public with a $100-million initial public offering. Plum Organics, New Chapter Vitamins, and Ben & Jerry’s are three B Corps operating under the umbrella of public companies (Campbell’s, Procter & Gamble and Unilever, respectively).

Now, a new milestone: B Corp and Unilever are talking. Let that sink in. Read more »

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Company Profiles

Unilever (UN): Sustainability is the Strategy

March 12, 2015

Unilever logoEarlier this year, Unilever’s (NYSE: UN) CEO Paul Polman announced the company was considering pursuing B Corporation status, which obligates companies to provide a “general public benefit” alongside their commercial activities (see related article in the Spring 2015 edition of The Clean Yield). This is not a new concept to the company. Going back to its roots as Lever Brothers in the late 1800s, the company has tried to balance profit with responsible corporate behavior.

Corporate responsibility researchers regularly rank Unilever at or near the top of global companies on both sustainability policy and performance. The CEO is widely admired for his commitment to deliver tangible results, rather than just seeking a favorable public image. The company’s reputation seems to be helping attract young talent. It is the #1 consumer goods employer of choice among students surveyed in 26 countries. The company has been reporting on its sustainability since 1996.

In 2010 the company launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan as a blueprint for sustainable growth. The plan sets out to decouple growth from environmental impact, while increasing positive social impacts. UN tries to embed sustainability into every stage of the lifecycle of its products. As of 2013, 48% of the agricultural raw materials the company used were sourced sustainably. Read more »

Hyster-Yale (HY): Give Your Portfolio a (Fork)Lift

March 9, 2015

Hyster-Yale is a leading manufacturer of lift trucks (fork lifts) that are marketed globally under the Hyster and Yale brand names. The operating company has been in business for more than 80 years but became an independent company in 2012 when it was spun out of NACCO Industries. Hyster-Yale is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

The company’s smaller lift trucks are electric-powered and are being used where noise or fuel emissions make diesel-powered trucks problematic. These lifts primarily move pallets or pick orders from shelves. The company’s larger, internal-combustion-engine lift trucks  move heavy parts in a factory or in port, steel, or rail facilities.

HY’s end markets are diverse, with manufacturing being the largest at 28% of total revenue. In the U.S. and Europe, warehouse and distribution demand has been growing, and demand has increased for  electric lift truck technology.

HY’s overall business strategy is to reduce the overall cost of ownership of its products. Hyster’s geographically balanced manufacturing in 21 facilities around the world reduces the company’s funding needs, currency exposure, and freight costs, and results in a high return on invested capital. Read more »

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