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.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.