Debate Will Focus on Corporate Reponsibility

   NEW YORK- (BUSINESS WIRE) - 8/23/2011 - Is sustainability sustainable for the bottom line? If corporate responsibility programs erode or reduce returns, why do companies pursue them? On the other hand, if they are profitable, why do executives and CFOs steer away from these valuable strategies? Four leaders in investment management and academic analysis will debate these questions in an Oxford-style debate on whether shareholder value is eroded or enhanced when companies integrate sustainability strategies and pursue corporate responsibility initiatives. In this unique format, two teams will debate, and seek to sway the audience with their compelling positions, arguments and rebuttals.
    In partnership with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Corporate Responsibility magazine’s COMMIT!Forum will assemble an unprecedented summit of professionals working to improve corporate responsibility and sustainability. The event will be held Sept. 26-27 at the Javits Center in Manhattan, a global investment hub.
    The team arguing that “shareholder value is eroded by sustainability and corporate responsibility” is Gerry Sullivan, Portfolio Manager of the VICE Fund (ticker: VICEX – www.usamutuals.com) and Dr. Aneel Karnani, PhD, from the University of Michigan and author of "The Case Against Corporate Social Responsibility,” published in The Wall Street Journal.
    “In general, the capital markets reward companies that exceed expectations and shareholders benefit from that success. I have only seen anecdotal evidence that sustainability enhances shareholder value. Of 11 selected ‘Green Funds’ only 2 have one-year performance better than the S&P 500. It will be difficult to show that sustainability has sufficient evidence compared to the everyday markets that are hyper-efficient and serve the best interest of investors,” said Sullivan, developer of the NASDAQ OMX Industry Leaders Index.
   A former Salomon Bros. corporate finance analyst and O'Connor & Associates options trader, Sullivan holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and an undergraduate degree from Columbia University.
    “As society faces many large challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, pervasive poverty, and disease epidemics, a critical issue is determining the appropriate roles for business and government in addressing these problems. This debate will explore the arguments about the role of business in society,” said Karnani, associate professor of strategy at the University of Michigan; and the author of Fighting Poverty Together. Karnani holds a doctorate from Harvard Business School as well as an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management and a B.A. from the Indian Institute of Technology.
    The team advocating that “shareholder value is enhanced by sustainability and corporate responsibility” includes R. Paul Herman, Chief Executive and Chief Investment Officer of HIP Investor Inc. (www.HIPinvestor.com), and Dr. Vinay Nair, chief investment officer of Ada Investments (www.adainvestments.com) and Associate Professor at the Columbia Business School.
    “We will show that investors have the potential to enhance their upside and limit their downside when investing for positive change,” said Nair, CEO and CIO of the New York based Ada Investment Management LP and adjunct associate professor at the Columbia Business School. The co-author of Investing for Change and a Senior Fellow at The Wharton School, Nair holds a doctorate from NYU’s Stern School and a B.Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras.
    “This spirited, but civil, debate will put front-and-center the real value of business to society and the potential for more profitable and lower-risk investor portfolios from the implementation of sustainability,” said Herman. The author of The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World and a lecturer at The Presidio Graduate School (MBA) and Thammasat Business School (Thailand), he holds a B.Sci in Economics from Wharton.
    The debate will take place on September 26th as part of the COMMIT!Forum (www.commitforum.com) in New York City and is open to the public. The debaters will present their cases for and against the resolution, “RESOLVED that when companies expend resources on corporate responsibility and sustainability they destroy economic value.”
    About CR Magazine’s COMMIT!Forum:
    The COMMIT!Forum is named for its focus on innovators, leaders and companies making real commitments to improving society through business and investing. Staged by Corporate Responsibility magazine, publisher of the renowned “100 Best Corporate Citizens List,” in partnership with NYSE Euronext, this Forum provides a venue for debate, inspiration, and engagement. The Forum takes place September 26-27, 2011 at the Javits Center in New York City. Register today at http://www.commitforum.com.
    Support for the COMMIT!Forum has been received from Platinum Sponsor HP as well as ABBOTT, AHA!, The Clorox Company, ConAgra Foods, Future 500, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, MolsonCoors, REC Solar, SAP, and State Street Corporation. Program partners include NYSE Euronext as well as American Society for Quality, Chicago Clean Energy Alliance, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Environmental Defense Fund, Global Environmental Management Initiative, Global Reporting Initiative, The Humane Society, National Democratic Institute, and U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools.

Photo by Steve Rensberry (c) 2014