How Green Was Our Impact: The 2023 Benefit Report

Feb 26, 2024 | ESG, Impact, Sustainability

Green Investment Strategies, Inc. (“Green”) is all about doing good while doing well. And as a Public Benefit Corporation, we get to report on the cool stuff we’ve done for society every year. So, here’s how we’ve worked towards our “triple bottom line” and made a difference for people and the planet in our very first year.

Environment:

Our dedication to the environment has profoundly influenced our investment strategies, far exceeding benchmarks within our sector. By using Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) analysis, we’ve integrated funds with sustainability mandates into our public market allocations. Additionally, we’ve pioneered sustainable private market investments through a partnership with a dedicated sustainable alternative asset manager. And, we contributed over 5% of our revenue to charities focused on critical issues such as government policy, clean air, sustainable industry, and sustainable energy.

In doing so, we earned high scores in our B Corp. Assessment. We achieved 62.6 points in the Environmental category, almost three times better than the benchmark of 24 points for the average company in our sector. When we say we’re committed to solving the climate crisis, we mean it.

Governance

By consciously choosing the legal structure of a benefit corporation, Green adopted a governance model that requires the consideration of all stakeholders. This means that we value equally the welfare of employees, communities, the environment, and shareholders. This commitment led us to facilitate and fund employee training on social and environmental issues crucial to our company’s mission. Notably, we invested in our chief investment officer’s professional development by providing the resources necessary for him to obtain the Chartered SRI Counselor (CSRIC) certification. This graduate-level program, designed for advanced financial planners, has significantly enhanced his expertise in sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investments, including the history, definitions, trends, portfolio construction principles, fiduciary responsibilities, and best practices related to SRI.

Furthermore, the job descriptions within our firm, especially that of our chief investment officer, explicitly incorporate the integration of social and environmental performance into the construction of client portfolios. This ensures that our portfolios help achieve our broader mission to reduce carbon emissions and shift investments towards sustainable entities. In doing so, we offer our clients the opportunity to achieve market rate or better returns while contributing to the preservation of a planet suitable for human life.

Our commitment to governance and sustainable investment practices is further evidenced in our client engagement processes. Our quarterly performance reviews with clients formally incorporate an assessment of social and environmental impacts, ensuring that portfolios are not only meeting financial objectives but are also aligned with our sustainability goals. This practice allows for timely course corrections as needed, reinforcing our dedication to transparency, accountability, and the continuous alignment of our investments with our values and mission.

This all adds up to a Governance score of 16, nearly twice as good as the score (8.5) of the average company in our sector.

Workers

In reflecting on our B Impact Assessment, it’s important to acknowledge that Green underperformed in the Workers category, scoring 22.6 against a sector benchmark of 35.7. This lower score primarily reflects the unique structure of our company: as the sole employee, I’ve often placed my own needs and benefits last in line. This is a common scenario in the early stages of a startup (Green opened its doors in the summer of 2023.), where the focus is on building the business’s foundation and ensuring its future success. Despite this, it’s worth highlighting that Green is 100% employee-owned, and we’ve made a conscious effort to provide employment opportunities for historically disadvantaged persons, including individuals with disabilities. This approach not only aligns with our broader mission of social responsibility but also enriches our company culture and operational perspective. Moving forward into 2024, Green is committed to improving in this area, recognizing the importance of self-care and the well-being of all employees, even in a single-person enterprise. Enhancing worker-related policies and practices will be a priority, ensuring a balanced approach to both personal welfare and business growth.

Community

Our corporation has deepened its commitment to community engagement and development, focusing on initiatives that strengthen the ties between diverse groups and foster collective action against climate change. Highlighting this commitment, Green’s CEO co-founded Green Drinks Philly, a monthly meetup that has become a melting pot for students, academics, business owners, employees, and government officials—essentially, anyone in town with a keen interest in the climate crisis. These gatherings are dedicated to cross-pollination, brainstorming, and networking, all aimed at discovering and implementing ways the greater Philadelphia community can be a pivotal force in solving the climate crisis. Additionally, Green has taken an active role in the Sustainable Business Network of Philadelphia, engaging with other businesses committed to sustainable practices. Further, Green launched its podcast, titled, appropriately, Planet Profits Podcast. On this show, we publicize businesses, some of which are local to the Philadelphia region, that are working to mitigate or adapt to the climate crisis. Taken as a whole, these efforts have not only fostered community resilience but also stimulated local economies, showcasing our unwavering dedication to uplifting the communities where we operate and reinforcing our role as a catalyst for environmental and social progress.

Our engagement with the B Impact Assessment has revealed areas of both strength and opportunity within the Community category, where Green scored 17.8, marginally below the sector benchmark of 19.1. We’ve demonstrated commendable performance in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion subcategory, significantly due to our commitment to disability ownership. Additionally, our active participation in civic engagement initiatives, including our charitable contributions, involvement in Green Drinks Philly, and membership in the Sustainable Business Network of Philadelphia, has allowed us to excel in the Civic Engagement and Giving subcategory.

However, it’s clear that we have room for growth in the subcategories of Supply Chain Management and Local Economic Development and Economic Impact, where our performance did not meet the benchmark. Acknowledging this gap, we are committed to making tangible improvements in 2024. Our strategy includes a thorough investigation of our supply chain to identify and implement necessary changes that align with our sustainability and community engagement values. Furthermore, to bolster our contribution to local economic development, we plan to shift our business banking to a local bank, reinforcing our commitment to supporting the local economy and fostering community growth. And we have already changed our bookkeeper from Quicken, a subsidiary of large-cap multi-national Intuit, to a sustainable local firm that specializes in working with benefit corporations.

By addressing these areas of underperformance, we aim not only to meet but to exceed sector benchmarks in the future, reinforcing our dedication to making a positive and holistic impact on the community we serve.

Customers

In the realm of serving our customers, Green has achieved exceptional results, as evidenced by our B Impact Assessment score of 49.3, again more than doubling the sector average of 23.1. This achievement underscores our commitment to excellence across several key areas: securing quality third-party certifications, safeguarding customer data, rigorously monitoring customer satisfaction, and, most critically, producing positive outcomes for our customers through our services. Our approach to investment, which prioritizes positive impact investments, utilizes ESG criteria for analyzing potential investments, and aims to maximize shareholder advocacy for climate crisis mitigation and adaptation, stands at the heart of our customer service strategy.

These efforts reflect our deep commitment to not only meet but exceed our customers’ expectations, ensuring that their investments contribute to a sustainable and equitable future. Looking forward to 2024, we are poised to elevate our customer engagement even further by better publicizing the satisfaction of our customers. This move towards greater transparency is aimed at fostering trust and accountability, ensuring that potential future clients feel confident in our commitment to their success and the broader environmental mission. By sharing these insights, we invite our customers and stakeholders into a closer partnership, working together towards mutual goals of sustainability and impact.

Summary:

Green Investment Strategies, Inc. (“Green”) is thrilled to share our overall score of 169.4 on the third-party B Corp Assessment, showcasing our exceptional commitment and performance in key aspects of our operation. This score notably more than doubles the minimum of 80 required for B Corp certification, reflecting our dedication to far exceed the benchmarks for responsible and sustainable business conduct. We therefore look forward to becoming an official B Corp when B Lab Global’s analysts review our assessment. Our strengths lie in Governance, Customers, and, most notably, the Environment—areas that align closely with our core mission and focus. While we celebrate our achievements in these domains, we recognize the need for improvement in the Workers and Community categories. With a spirit of continuous improvement and a commitment to our values, Green is poised to address these challenges head-on. Our goal for the coming year is not just to improve our scores but to reinforce our impact across all facets of our business, solidifying our role as leaders in ethical and intelligent investment amid the climate crisis.

Not bad for our first year.