Bringing Sustainable & Impact Investing to the Mainstream Capital Markets
Whether the subject is climate change, income inequality, healthcare, nutrition & education imperatives, rebuilding infrastructure, or supply chain management sustainable investing and finance can produce tremendous economic value. Governments cannot meet these challenges alone; and the private sector must work to proactively to get the job done. Leveraging the scale and dynamism of the capital markets is essential. Erika sounds the call for corporate sustainability, transparency and governance excellence. She highlights the need for mainstream investors to push for engaging Wall Street and capital markets around the globe. “We’re at an inflection point where we can have a better and more sustainable form of capitalism if we act consciously, pragmatically and systematically,” she says. Participants will come away with a deeper understanding of the tools available to create change, and ways to bring about superior, risk-adjusted, market-rate returns over the long run.
Women and Diversity in the Workplace
Rising to the top on Wall Street is no easy game. While women have made strides in the past 25 years, wide gaps remain. This is particularly the case with regard to Board leadership and representation in top corporate positions. Erika champions diversity that informs the workplace and improves decision-making by engaging with “new” voices; and she calls on businesses to elevate their commitment to listen. By developing the “soft power” of networks, women can also do better to share lessons learned. Investors are central in promoting more diverse Boards and have a greater voice regarding corporate governance. By repeatedly asking questions, they can advocate for companies to broaden their practices, such as considering skill-sets honed in non-traditional ways. “Activist” investors can play a positive role in promoting diversity and good governance if they take a long-term, constructive view.
Jumping out of a plane, and building the parachute on the way down” is how some people describe entrepreneurship. In leaving the halls of one of Wall Street’s top investment banks to set out on her own, Erika highlights her journey of becoming the Founder of the next generation financial services firm...one which is “purpose built” for sustainable and impact investing. Erika’s offers a compelling tale of seizing opportunities and the need to catalyze change. She talks of ways to stoke business innovation, whether as a standalone company, or from within a large organization to develop models for the future global economy.
A confluence of factors make her new venture, Cornerstone Capital Inc., well-timed: Technology and social media are fueling the rise of impact investors, who have more ways to measure and understand that what is good for society can also be good for business and profitability. Millennials, who are generally more educated, socially conscious and connected, will soon be actors in the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history. As such, the next generation of “billionaire investors” will demand not only competitive economic returns, but positive societal impact.
Erika Karp is Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group (“Cornerstone”). Cornerstone was created to catalyze the flow of capital toward a more regenerative and inclusive global economy. The firm serves investors who want to align their investments with their mission or values, without sacrificing targeted financial returns. Cornerstone’s client base includes individuals, family offices, foundations and endowments.
Karp is one of the industry’s pioneers in terms of environmental, social and governance analysis and sustainable investing. She presents and writes extensively on topics including sustainable investing and finance, corporate strategy and business models, transparency and excellence in the areas of Environmental, Social and Governance performance, and employee engagement/diversity in the workplace. Karp speaks at venues around the world including the UN Global Compact, the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the Clinton Global Initiative, the Wharton School, the NYSE, the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD), the Aspen Institute, the White House, and many other forums.
Prior to launching Cornerstone in the summer of 2013, Karp was Managing Director and Head of Global Sector Research at UBS Investment Bank. She chaired the Global Investment Review Committee, served on the UBS Securities Research Executive Committee, and served on the Environmental and Human Rights Committee of the UBS Group Executive Board.
Karp is a founding Board member of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), a member of CECP’s Strategic Investor Initiative Advisory Council, and an advisor to the Omidyar Network’s Know the Chain initiative. She served as an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Market-Based Approaches initiative, a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Financing and Capital, and as a member of the Program Design Advisory Council for Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program on Innovating for Sustainability.
Karp’s work has been featured in leading financial by Bloomberg Businessweek, Barron’s, Euromoney, the Financial Times, Investor Relations Magazine, The Guardian, and Forbes. She has been named among the nation’s “Top 50 Women in Wealth” by AdvisorOne; one of the “Purpose Economy 100,” the “Good 100;” one of 50 “Conscious Capitalists” who are “Transforming Wall Street;” StartOut award for Entrepreneurial Leadership; "Real Leaders 100;" and one of the Conscious Company’s 35 World-Changing Women in Business, 2019.