The impact of both Brexit and the Covid 19 pandemic have given us all time to reflect on the world we live in. As consumers in the developed world, we are perhaps more aware of the impact we make on our planet. The words “Sustainable” and “Ethical” spring to mind.
So where does one stand on ethics and sustainability? As individuals, it’s very easy to say “we are Green”, but then travel 70km to stock up on our favourite brands of frozen convenience meals. Most of us, due to “lockdown”, now spend more time cooking and preparing our meals at home.
How far are major companies prepared to change too? Coca Cola has announced plans to make a paper bottle and already has a prototype that can be recycled, which was developed in the Brussels R&D centre. But, whilst that is a very applaudable, one company has gone even further.
I have to admit that there is an affection for them as I worked in one of their divisions for two years prior to a career change to Financial Services. One of the biggest global consumer companies which operates in 190 countries is Unilever. “Love or loathe it” to paraphrase Marmite, they have taken what some may consider a risky strategy. Not only do they try to ensure that the raw materials that go to make their products are as green as possible, they have taken what may be considered a leap of faith. Sustainability and ethics are not only about “green principals”. They are insisting that every part of its global chain of suppliers provide a “living wage”, and in some cases double that, by 2030. These include smallholder farmers as well major direct suppliers numbering in total 60,000. As the CEO, Alan Jope, said in a statement on the 21st Jan 2021, “The two biggest threats that the world currently faces are climate change and social inequality.”
As part of a developed area of the world we should all make a choice. Do we support the ethics of a company that is looking to redistribute wealth and act in an ethical, sustainable way, or do we just look at price rather than value? Have the events of the last year been our wake up call? Morally, rather than just looking at saving tax, or short term political gain and expediency, we should consider what the real legacy is that we leave our children and grandchildren on this planet that we share.
The same questions will be applied by our fund managers, in particular those that focus on ethics, green issues and sustainability. Are they the best choices for the future? I believe so. These specialists have far greater resources than I could ever have to research this “new world” we are entering, and are better equipped to look at the longer term than I am. I would be happy to provide a portfolio of these specialist funds to anyone who is interested, so feel to contact me on any of the points raised.