Pirelli has received major recognition for its commitment and the results achieved in the field of sustainability through its inclusion, since early 2000s, in some of the most prestigious international stock exchange Sustainability indexes.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is the practice of making investment decisions on the basis of not only financial performance, but also on ethical, social, and environmental criteria. Socially responsible investors pursue certain economic objectives but at the same time favour sustainable companies.
Origins and performance of Socially Responsible Investment
The idea of incorporating ethical or social criteria into the investment process is not new. Churches, universities and pension funds have been using so called "sin" screens (no tobacco, liquor or gambling investments) as far back as the 18th century. The modern era of socially responsible investing has its roots in the Vietnam War.
During the war an increasing number of investors became uncomfortable that their investment dollars were supporting companies supplying the war and they began to look for alternatives.
Interest continued to grow in the nineties with an increase in engagement between SRI funds and companies, a growing number of shareholder resolutions and greater pressure for companies to be transparent about their social and environmental impacts.
Nowadays both Private and Institutional Investors are increasingly diversifying their portfolios by investing in companies that set industry-wide best practices with regard to sustainability.
In one sense, SRI is just like traditional investing because socially concerned investors pursue the same economic goals as all investors: capital gains, higher income and/or preservation of capital for future needs. However, socially concerned investors want one additional thing: they are demanding greater accountability with respect to where their money is being invested, and for what purposes, they don't want their investments going for things that cause harm to the social or physical environments, and they do want their investments to support needed and life-supportive goods and services.
From a purely financial point of view, the concept of corporate sustainability is also attractive to investors because it aims to increase long-term shareholder value. A growing number of investors is convinced that sustainability is a catalyst for enlightened and disciplined management, and, thus, a crucial success factor.
Sustainability leaders are increasingly expected to show superior performance and favourable risk/return profiles.
In order to facilitate the investment choices of investors and asset managers, the Corporate sustainability performance is "financially quantified" by Socially Responsible Investment independent researchers, analysts and asset managers, like RobecoSAM for the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices or EIRIS for the FTSE4GOOD Indices among others, who measure the performance of companies with regard to their environmental, social and ethical/governance impacts through very detailed analysis, this way determining a certain degree of risks and opportunities (the so called "Rating") connected to the evaluated companies. The set up of a Sustainability Index thus originates from the above mentioned ESG screening aimed at selecting the stock titles that are admissible (or not) in the sustainability index.
For a clear picture of SRI market dimension and relevant features, we suggest to consult the SRI Study 2012 by Eurosif. The study reports detailed figures against the most common sustainable and responsible investment strategies adopted by European investors, showing that each of these has outgrown the overall market since 2009. Eurosif (the European Sustainable Investment Forum) is a pan-European network and think-tank whose mission is to Develop Sustainability through European Financial Markets.