The responsible investment, capital stewardship, and 'pension fund activism' movements

It is noteworthy that as finance has been on the 'rise,' some activists began to formalize anti-corporate and targeted activist campaign strategies through pension and personal investment funds. In Canada and the U.S., several faith organizations began to argue that anti-social corporate behaviour should be, in some sense, sanctioned by individual investors and ultimate owners, on the basis of social principle or humanitarian values. These initiatives then crystallized and drew broader support with the rise of the sanctions and divestment movement directed against corporate and government support for apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.

Such initiatives have seen their labels evolving from “ethical investment,” to “socially responsible investment” (SRI), to the most recent simplified term of “responsible investment.” While many trade unions, NGOs, and activists have embraced these efforts, others have not, and a substantial differentiation on the political left has emerged. Most recently, Queen's political economist Susanne Soederberg has produced a sharply critical analysis of these investor-activist efforts from a Marxist political economy framework. This critique follows previous analyses by CAW economists Sam Gindin and Jim Stanford, both of whom have raised serious questions about these strategies as projections of trade union or working class power. Other unions and labour organizations have embraced these strategies with enthusiasm, as is notable in the establishment of a "Committee on Workers Capital" at the international level. Click here to view complete outline.

Moderated by Greg Albo. Convenor: Kevin Skerrett. Presentations by:

Sponsors: Centre for Social Justice, Global Labour Research Centre (York University), Canada Research Chair in Political Economy (York University) and Socialist Project.

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