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Sustainability Matters

The Value(s) of Sustainable Investing

New data show professional investors overwhelmingly believe there is a link between corporate sustainability and long-term financial performance.

What percentage of investors do you think would say that a company’s sustainability performance is materially important to their investment decision-making? Even considering the growing interest in sustainable investing around the world, I might have guessed somewhere around one third, assuming that even among those who embrace sustainable investing, some are values-oriented or impact-oriented and just hope to achieve competitive financial benefits from investing that way. Furthermore, I might have guessed that a decent-size group remains altogether skeptical of any connection whatsoever between sustainability and materiality.

Instead, the results were a stunning 90% positive to 10% negative in a recently-released survey conducted by the MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group. Nine in 10 respondents, all professional investors, agreed--at least “to some extent”--with the following statement: “A company’s good sustainability performance is materially important for investors when making investment decisions.” Taking out those who said “to some extent” still left nearly three fourths (73%) who agreed at least to a “moderate extent.” Those who agreed to a “great extent” totaled 43%.