I was asked to speak for a University class this week. They’re studying responsible investment, and I began by saying;
“it can be hard to challenge the status quo.”
I talked about the evolution of ESG and impact investing, and the long battle to shift finance towards sustainability.
But… their reaction surprised me.
They didn’t nod in agreement, instead they asked; is this is still the case?
From their perspective, ESG and impact investing had pushed into the mainstream.
And with a jolt, it shifted my perspective.
It made me wonder whether my mindset is still stuck in the place it was 7 years ago? A time when ESG and Impact were niche outliers, that got very little coverage in the mainstream press.
Today, there’s $100m impact funds, and the pundits scramble over each other to debate, debunk and proselytise about the new world of ESG.
This group was curious and wide-eyed. They asked thoughtful questions. But, they also saw responsible investing as being part of ‘the system’.
The simple fact that there are Uni courses dedicated to the subject is a huge step forward.
So… is it time to give up the mantle of being the outsiders?
Has the job shifted, from one of advocacy, to now ensuring the industry ‘scales with integrity’?
I maintain the vision of making all investing, impact investing, it’s certainly the north star that I strive for in my work, but perhaps we need to celebrate the wins along the way a bit more.
To appreciate that ESG and Impact are in the vernacular now. The concepts have proven their resilience in a downturn, and the capital is flowing.
Of course, there may be a simpler moral to this story.
Perhaps, when you find yourself being shaken out of your cynicism by young people, its just a sign that you’re getting older.
I can raise my hand to that one.
Either way, the next generation will put their stamp on the foundations we’ve built, and the future’s bright.
The kids are gonna be alright.