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Comic Relief tables new ethical investment strategy after Panorama exposé

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Comic Relief has concluded a review into its ethical investment strategy, following revelations last year it invested in companies that appeared to conflict with its mission. The organisation will now implement the recommendations, including the exclusion of controversial industries.

In December, a BBC Panorama investigation alleged that the popular charity had investments in the arms and alcohol industries, both of which were in direct conflict with the charity’s mission. This led to the organisation committing to review its ethical investment strategy.

The review made five recommendations, all of which have been accepted. This includes Comic Relief signing up to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and publishing annual reports about its investments in a bid to improve transparency.

The changes being implemented also include the exclusion of some industries. Comic Relief will no longer make investments in companies that manufacture armaments or tobacco products, or whose primary business is the manufacture of alcohol products.

The exclusions were made against three criteria – Comic Relief’s vision of a just world, its grant-making programme and public opinion – and will be reviewed every six months.

Tim Davie, the charity’s chair, said, “This was an excellent piece of work by the review and I’m pleased to accept all five recommendations in full.

“Public trust is the cornerstone of Comic Relief and we would be nothing without so many supporters to whom we have listened and will keep listening. We now have an investment policy that is firmly in line with the ethics of the charity.”

However, the review also states that the investment market “may not be able to provide enough suitable pooled funds with the mix of excluded sectors that Comic Relief decides to require”. It highlights a bespoke fund as a potential solution to this, as it would give the organisation more control and visibility of its investment, but notes this it would bring increased costs.

The trade body the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) congratulated Comic Relief for defining its approach on exclusion and its commitment to transparency, but noted that there were areas where more work is needed.

Chief executive Simon Howard said, “We’re a bit surprised at the suggestion that the UK can’t readily provide investment of whatever type Comic Relief chooses. The UK is a leader in sustainable and responsible investment and UK fund managers are flexible.

“If there is a pooled fund which nearly fits the Comic Relief exclusion criteria, we suspect a separate class of units exactly meeting them would soon be forthcoming. Discretionary and indexed funds can increasingly be constructed to order and fees are always negotiable. We suspect many UKSIF members could meet the needs of the next stage of the review work and would urge Comic Relief to engage with them.”

The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) recently urged charities and social enterprises to consider the ethics of their investment. In response to the revelation around Comic Relief, the organisation set up a commission to advise the third sector on responsible investment.

Photo: Elliott Brown via Flickr  

Further reading:

Third sector urged to assess ethical investment policy

Ethical investment a ‘practical’ option for charities after Comic Relief revelations

Comic Relief shoots itself in the foot – possible with a gun it’s invested in

Comic Relief has ‘nothing to hide’ ahead of BBC unethical investment investigation

Comic Relief accused of unethical investment in tobacco and weapons

Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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Top 5 Renewable Energy Stocks to Watch

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Do you feel morally obligated to put your money where your mouth is? I totally get it. We all want to make the world a better place, and I want to help you put your investments to work for you and the planet we call home – we only get one.

Questor Technology – CVE:QST

Questor Technology is one of the most promising penny stocks to follow under $5. It turns out that investing in renewable energy stocks doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can get in on the ground floor by investing in penny stocks. These are companies that are just starting to make an impact. If they are successful in the long-run, you win BIG. If they fail, you’re only out a couple pennies. Small risk and big potential reward.

Questor Technology is exciting because they are solving one of the biggest barriers to a greener planet – huge waste and pollution from the oil and gas industry. When they first launched they enjoyed a couple of record years. But as the economy took a hit, so did the oil and gas sector.

I love these guys because they didn’t call it quits. Instead of hanging up the towel, they retooled and relaunched. Now, instead of selling clean energy tech to large oil and gas firms, they rent the tech out. This provides a stable, ongoing revenue. And, if the economy takes another dip, they can quickly scale operations back.

I’m expecting a major upswing. If you have a couple of extra pennies in your portfolio, chuck ‘em at these guys.

NRG Yield – NYSE:NYLD

If you’re willing to dance with the devil, NRG Yield is an exciting company to watch. They invest and offer all forms of energy – from renewable to traditional. I’m really encouraged by their massive investment in renewable energy.

In recent years, making energy more environmentally sustainable has become a focus for a company that used to be one of the bad guys. I think we should encourage companies to stop killing our planet. These guys are on a warpath on behalf of green energy – and so what if they showed up a little late to the party. Don’t we want to reward reform?

Oh, and speaking of green, they’ve had a phenomenal year for investors. I definitely recommend adding them to your portfolio.

Brookfield Asset Management – NYSE:BAM

This is an asset management firm that has gone big on renewable energy. Part of their genius is that they stayed on the sidelines while renewable firms launched and fought over access to technology and resources. While they watched the good guys duke it out, they swooped in and picked up green energy firms that stumbled.

This means that their investors are able to invest in green energy at a HUGE discount. Brookfield Asset Management has more than 100 years of experience making strong investment plays. I love that they allow investors to access green technology without paying the hype premium.

Pattern Energy Group – NASDAQ:PEGI

Based in San Francisco, Pattern Energy Group is a pure green energy play. They’ve spent that past few decades building, expanding and innovating with more than 20 renewable energy facilities. If you’re a bleeding heart with a passion for green energy, this is as good as it gets!

You can purchase stock in their company on two different exchanges – the NASDAQ and Toronto Stock Exchange. This allows investors both north and south of the border to avoid international transaction fees. Savvy investors can compare both markets to find the best bang for the green dollar.

Carnegie Clean Energy – ASX:CCE

I saved the best for last with this stock. Carnegie Clean Energy harnesses the kinetic motion of ocean waves to generate energy. Their tech has been proven by the Australian defense sector – helping to power a naval base at Garden Island.

They also have dipped into other forms of renewable energy, so they have a bright future in a variety of markets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a buyout shortly based on the proprietary, proven technology that this firm owns the rights to.

In conclusion, it is totally possible to be green-conscious while making some green for your investment portfolio. Some companies are more committed than others, but I’m not afraid of rewarding traditional energy companies if they’re making a solid effort to diversify and make the world a greener place.

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