ESG: A new credential

Hi! It’s been a while.

First, be advised that, despite being 50+, asthmatic, family-sized and living in the worldwide epicenter of the worst pandemic in a hundred years, I’m still among the living. (Settle your bets.)

Second, I have been keeping busy. I recently came across a social media post that said, “You know you’re antisocial when the whole world goes on lockdown and your life barely changes.” But I am social. That’s one-third of my newly acquired skill set, rooted in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is a surging topic now that BlackRock is onboard, but that humongous private equity firm isn’t exactly a pioneer in the field. The branding and communications house Darien Group engaged me to write the copy for the 2020 ESG report for Paine Schwartz Partners, a niche PE firm targeted on the food chain. To PSP’s credit, my assignment was to help them with their third annual ESG report, so that outfit is very much an early adopter. Pardon the link to a link, but I’m already halfway done with the next ESG report Darien Group has put in my way, so I thought it best to create a new page here. More to follow.

By the way, I walk the talk when it comes to ESG. Working from home, I have a remarkably low carbon footprint. I gave up my car more than a year ago and walk to pretty much any errand I have to run. When I need to go into New York City — something I haven’t done in almost three months! — I use mass transit. Since I cook most my own food, I patronize local businesses that sell local produce, and use the kitchen tap rather than buy bottled water. (There’s such thing as enough filtering to make Jersey City water potable.)

I give back to society by supporting the local food bank run by the Seventh Day Adventist church and am privileged to be serving my third term on the New York Financial Writers’ Association’s board of governors. And of course, during this season of covid-19, I wear a reusable cloth mask and disposable vinyl gloves whenever I might be within six feet of anyone not in my household.

In terms of governance, I’m a sole proprietor who has no employees besides myself, so that’s about as flat an org chart as you’re going to get. My job is to please my clients which, judging from the testimonials I’m collecting, I’m doing well. That said, my ultimate responsibility is to humankind more broadly, which requires a firm set of ethics. Mine are rooted in mussar, the ethical teachings of my religious tradition, summarized in the Talmudic tractate Pirkei Avos, or “Sayings of our Fathers”. Some of the most famous quotes from that:

  • “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” 
  • “In a place where there are no [responsible, moral] people, strive to be a [responsible, moral] person.”
  • And my favorite: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”

One of the authors of Pirkei Avos, Hillel the Elder (who was born about 2,100 years ago), is quoted elsewhere in the Talmud as saying, “What you yourself hate, don’t do to your neighbor.” You might have heard a rabbi of the next generation paraphrase that.

So let me know if you need a content writer with a track record in ESG. Or Fintech. Or retirement plans. Or economic outlooks. Or commercial real estate. Or corporate finance. Or hedge funds. Or small-caps. Or cryptocurrency. Or foreign exchange. Or crowdfunding. Or alternative lending. Or …

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