Do Responsible Investors Invest Responsibly?

77 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2020 Last revised: 10 Jun 2021

See all articles by Rajna Gibson

Rajna Gibson

University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute (GFRI); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Simon Glossner

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Philipp Krueger

University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute (GFRI); Swiss Finance Institute; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); University of Geneva - Geneva School of Economics and Management

Pedro Matos

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Tom Steffen

Osmosis Investment Management

Date Written: May 25, 2021

Abstract

We explore a novel survey on responsible investing by institutional investors around the world and match it to archival data on their equity portfolio holdings. We document that institutions that publicly commit to responsible investing exhibit better environmental, social, and governance (ESG) portfolio-level scores but this holds only outside of the United States. US-domiciled investors that commit to responsible investing, in contrast, exhibit at best similar, if not significantly worse portfolio ESG scores than their uncommitted peers. This disconnect between words and actions in the U.S. appears to be partly driven by underperforming investors seeking to attract fund flows, consistent with concerns of “greenwashing.”

Keywords: ESG, SRI, PRI, socially responsible investing, sustainability, institutional investors, greenwashing

JEL Classification: G15, G23, G30, M14

Suggested Citation

Gibson, Rajna and Glossner, Simon and Krueger, Philipp and Matos, Pedro and Steffen, Tom, Do Responsible Investors Invest Responsibly? (May 25, 2021). Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 20-13, European Corporate Governance Institute – Finance Working Paper 712/2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3525530 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3525530

Rajna Gibson

University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute (GFRI) ( email )

40 Boulevard du Pont d'Arve
Geneva 4, Geneva 1211
Switzerland
+41.22.379.89.83 (Phone)

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Simon Glossner

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Philipp Krueger

University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute (GFRI) ( email )

40 Boulevard du Pont d'Arve
Geneva 4, Geneva 1211
Switzerland

Swiss Finance Institute ( email )

Switzerland

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

University of Geneva - Geneva School of Economics and Management ( email )

Uni Mail
Bd du Pont-d'Arve 40
Geneva, 1211
Switzerland

Pedro Matos (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

University of Virginia
P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434 243 8998 (Phone)
434 924 0726 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty-research/directory/pedro-matos/

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Tom Steffen

Osmosis Investment Management ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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