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JACF Call for Papers, High Meadows Institute Report, The Statement Campaign, and Forbes.com
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Dear Fellow Supporters of Integrated Reporting,
 
This e-mail concerns four topics: (1) a “Call for Papers” from the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, (2) a report on sustainability in the capital markets “Sustainability in Capital Markets: A Survey of Current Progress and Practices," (3) some recent articles about the idea of an annual board “Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality,” and (4) my latest post on Forbes.com.
 
Call for Papers
 
Every year, the Spring Issue of the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance ( JACF) is devoted to sustainability. Here is the “Call for Papers” for the Spring 2016 Issue on “Corporate Sustainability and Shareholder Value.” This will be the fourth special issue of this type. As before, contributions are welcomed from both academics and practitioners that address sustainability topics from the perspective of companies, investors, civil society, and public policy. If you are interested in submitting a paper, please contact Don Chew (don.chewnyc@gmail.com), Chris Pinney (cpinney@highmeadowsinstitute.org), President of High Meadows Institute, or me. The deadline for papers is March 30, 2016.
 
Charting the Future for Capital Markets
 
The High Meadows Institute  (HMI) recently released a paper “Sustainability in Capital Markets: A Survey of Current Progress and Practices” prepared by KKS Advisors.  This report is part of a larger program the High Meadows Institute is doing in cooperation with the JACF on the future of capital markets.  The goal of The Future of Capital Markets project is to identify how private sector players within mainstream capital markets can drive the innovations needed to ensure 21st century capital markets remain open, vibrant, and sustainable operating in the long term interests of both investors and society.
 
In the Executive Summary, HMI Board member and Harvard Business School Professor George Serafeim (gserafeim@hbs.edu) outlines the four major findings of the report:
  1. Although many worthwhile frameworks have been produced to date, we still lack convergence and standardizations in measuring intangible assets and clarity in defining the “path to value,” i.e. how better management of intangible assets affects key financial parameters, namely return on capital, growth, and cost of capital.
  2. While certain asset owners have been the protagonists in ESG integration and incentivizing the rest of capital market players to practice ESG integration, the analysis suggests that most of the largest asset owners do not have the governance and incentive systems that promote ESG integration.
  3. The analysis identifies credit rating agencies as the institutions that lag in adopting ESG integration into business analysis models.
  4. A significant number of stock exchanges have promoted sustainable investing by offering sustainability-related indices and providing training opportunities to companies and/or investors.
This is an excellent and timely report. If you have any questions about this report or the Future of Capital Markets project please contact Chris Pinney (cpinney@highmeadowsinstitute.org)  or Sakis Kotsantonis (sakis@kksadvisors.com).
 
Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality

The purpose of this campaign, as all of you know, is to urge companies to have their board of directors issue an annual “Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality.” While this statement is values neutral (e.g., the board can decide that the only significant audience is short-term shareholders so the company can play the earnings game), you all know that my goal for this is to support integrated reporting and the creation of a sustainable society.
 
In “Thinking About Directors’ Duties and Directors’ Liabilities,” The D&O Diary, September 29, 2015, author Kevin Lacroix examines The Statement in the US context, and makes separate commentary about director duties and liabilities in China. This article is an excellent supplement to the legal memos being posted on the ABA’s Sustainable Development Task Force website's "Duty of Board Directors" section, which is the first pillar of the Statement Campaign.
 
Further supporting the first pillar, the Asia Pacific law firm MinterEllison has posted “Company’s Role in Society,” September 23, 2015, on their Corporate HQ Advisory blog. This post digests Tim Youmans’ and my Harvard Business School Working Paper Materiality in Corporate Governance: The Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality  and our MIT Sloan Management Review article Why Boards Must Look Beyond Shareholders into 582 words.
 
Supporting corporate board adoption of The Statement, which is the second pillar of the Statement Campaign, “The Board-Centric Annual Meeting,” by John C. Wilcox, Chairman, Sodali, October 2015, envisions The Statement as paving the way to strengthen the “entire process of [board] disclosure, communication, proxy solicitation and engagement, as well as the [annual] meeting itself.” In this memo, John also tightly links the materiality focus of The Statement to Integrated Reporting.  John has been pushing for more effective boards and more communication from boards of directors for many years, and his other memos are posted on the Sodali web site, among other venues.
 
Fobes.com
 
My latest post is “Gray Air and Green Bonds.”


 
Kind regards,

Bob


Robert G. Eccles | Professor of Management Practice | Harvard Business School
Facebook: facebook.com/innovatingforsustainability
Twitter: twitter.com/rgeccles
Email: reccles@hbs.edu
Phone: 617.495.8585
 
Hon. FCCA

 Movement: Meaning, Momentum, Motives, and Materiality