From ESG to Impact Investing: Catholic reflections from the field

Apr 13, 2023
Booth School of Business
5807 S Woodlawn Avenue
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Terrence KeeleyNanovic Institute

Luigi ZingalesUniversity of Chicago, Booth

Registration required. Open to students and faculty only. Email to inquire about registration.

Should business and finance play larger roles in resolving the great social and environmental challenges of our time? Proponents of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing say yes. They argue that ESG financial strategies can help reverse runaway carbon emissions and fix income and gender inequalities, among other ills. ESG-integrated investments already encompass more than $120 trillion in financial assets. Are they working as promised? If not, how can they be improved?

In his new book Sustainable, Terrence Keeley, a finance-industry veteran offers an insider’s look at the promises, prospects, and perils of ESG investing. Keeley argues that many ESG advocates have been overly optimistic about what it can accomplish. Divestment threats are ineffective tools for altering corporate behavior, and verifiably “good” companies do not systematically generate great returns. Most importantly, business and finance cannot cure social ills on their own: regulators, public policies, civil society, and individuals must all play specific, complementary roles to shape the future we want. Keeley provides comprehensive solutions that would promote more inclusive, sustainable growth. In particular, he recommends reallocating capital from some indexed products toward an emerging class of strategies with more verifiable social and environmental benefits. Keeley identifies dozens of alternative “impact investing” strategies that could generate true double bottom lines. He also highlights promising civic organizations with proven methodologies for achieving widely shared benefits at scale.

Proposing practical, actionable, and in many cases profitable solutions to social and environmental problems, Sustainable offers an incisive vision of the roles business and finance can and should play in building a flourishing society.

Come and join the Lumen Christi Institute and Catholics at Booth for a lunchtime conversation between former Blackrock executive Terrence Keeley and Prof. Luigi Zingales. 


Image from Sustainable: Moving Beyond ESG Toward Impact Investing (Columbia Business School Publishing, 2022)