Many companies instill transparency and accountability into their ethos from the very beginning, and that’s what Vation Intelligence is highlighting in our quarterly Tech For Good roundup. Shedding light on the companies utilizing the power of technology for good highlights how technology might be the key to solving some of what seem to be the world’s most unsolvable problems.
This quarter, we focused on three primary focus points:
Socially responsible investment vehicles
Tracking KPIs against sustainability goals
Leveraging technology to promote diversity and equality
What is Tech for Good?
As we explored in our last tech for good article, tech for good is the use of technology to strive for a measurable and positive impact on the world.
Tech for good can encompass:
A community of like-minded people promoting the role of technology in bettering economic, environmental, and social outcomes
Creating technologies that address economic, social, and environmental challenges
Building technology that's deployed or implemented with a conscience (ethically)
As technology continues to be at the center of business, and society in general, those in the technology ecosystem must consider the greater impact of the innovations they’re making. Technology companies must acknowledge and take accountability for their role in everyday life for both the products and services they launch and the tangible and intangible impact that follows.
What companies help consumers to invest in socially responsible investments?
Many times, we do our best to vote with our dollar. But this can be hard to do when we're looking for returns on that dollar. It's simpler to buy a hybrid car instead of a gas guzzler when the time comes or choose post-recycled products in the store. But what about when we put our money away for retirement or investing? Is it ethical to make money from less than savory activities like corporate prisons or tobacco products?
ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investment offerings are here to help. This allows you to grow your wealth while keeping ethics in mind. And the ethics may be worth it. The S&P ESG Index has outperformed the traditional S&P 500 by more than 2%. Hallmarks of ESG funds include divestment from weapons, tobacco, alcohol, prisons, and oil & gas while emphasizing companies that prioritize ESG values in their business practices.
The increased interest in ESG investing can be attributed to the public's growing concern about their investments. Around 51% more institutional investors and 45% more fund selectors engaged in active ownership of ESG investments in 2020, compared to 2019. Investors want to know that their funds are being used ethically rather than contributing to unethical practices. With ESG investing, investors can find investments in the same sectors as with traditional investing, but also with an eye toward ensuring ethical practices. That said, since investors aren't just selecting their portfolio based on what will maximize profit, performance and the acceptance of that performance will vary person-by-person based on the sectors they're passionate about.
Etho Capital – Etho Capital has created a flagship ETF that helps investors align values with their portfolios while claiming to reduce risk and enhance returns. They believe ESG data can help identify the most innovative and well-run companies making ESG a sign of good business leadership. Their primary focus is on data-driven investments with an eye towards 'Climate Leaders' vs. 'Climate Laggards.'
Social(k) – Social(k) is a retirement platform for the socially conscious. They offer all the most popular retirement plan types, including all flavors of IRA, 401(k)/403(b), as well as a Solo(k) for the self-employed. Their plans include a variety of mutual funds aimed at different aspects of ESG that allow investors to divest where they want. These include everything from Gender Equality Funds to Deforestation Free Funds.
Wealthfront- For those following the micro-investing and robo-advising trends of late, Wealthfront is probably a familiar name. They aren't as large as some competitors, but they excel at robo-advising based on interests and have won several awards for best robo-advisor. One of their core robo-advisor portfolios is the Socially Responsible portfolio. Not only will Wealthfront automatically select the best ESG options and rebalance accounts, but investors also have complete control to customize their Socially Responsible portfolio however they please.
What companies are empowering organizations to track sustainability KPIs?
We hear a lot about companies making sustainability goals, and most people are excited to take the leap. The number of S&P companies mentioning ESG on earnings calls is skyrocketing. The problem is wrapping our heads around where we are today, where we're going and how exactly to get there. A board of directors outlining carbon reduction goals and data center energy reduction is common, but it's tough to understand simple questions like "How much carbon DO we produce?" or "How do we actually make our data centers efficient?". This space is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs. It can be challenging to quantify ESG status, goals, and progress in our data-driven world. These companies are rising to the challenge to make sustainability just another KPI we track.
Committing to these sustainability goals for a company is not a small feat. Consumers expect companies to hold themselves responsible for meeting their goals rather than just leveraging it as a PR opportunity at the moment and never following through. Tracking sustainability KPIs can help organizations both externally and internally in showing they are committing impact over optics.
We've outlined a few companies that are making it easier for organizations to quantify KPIs surrounding sustainability.
Persefoni- Persefoni's SaaS platform provides climate management and accounting specific to emissions and climate goals. This can be in the form of real-time carbon calculations on investments for Financial Institutions or tracking emissions for individual companies. Their results help produce regulatory grade disclosures for communication to boards, investors, and clients.
Plan A- Plan A not only quantifies current carbon emissions but also facilitates creating decarbonization plans while tracking progress along the way. While most functions work seamlessly out of the box, they offer a team of experts to consult on tricky problems and even help develop bespoke models for the most complex businesses.
Refinitiv- Refinitiv is the big data company of sustainability. Their data includes everything from benchmarks to company-specific data to risk intelligence- everything financial institutions need to make savvy decisions. They've built a wide range of role-specific products on top of this vast data to help with due diligence, asset management, and more.
What companies are helping create a more diverse workforce?
It's been widespread knowledge for years that diverse teams perform better. In 2018, McKinsey’s Diversity Wins report showed that businesses in the top quartile for diversity were up to 36% more likely to outperform the industry median than businesses in the bottom quartile. Prior diversity studies by McKinsey also showed that diversity positively impacts everything from candidate attraction to decision-making ability.
So how do we ensure our companies are not only hiring the best talent but also hiring the best diverse talent? This is where diversity hiring platforms come in. They aim to remove humans' inherent and unconscious bias and level the playing field for underrepresented candidates and employees across the organization.
Syndio- Syndio offers a pay equity platform to help ensure equal pay for equal work at all levels of the organization. The platform ingests HR and pay data to quickly identify disparities of pay and ensure continual monitoring. Resolving found disparities becomes easy with Syndio's rule-based budgeting, and the tool can event prevent inequities in proposed pay changes.
Talenya- Talenya offers the world's first Automated Sourcing Platform that scours billions of profiles and converts the most qualified and diverse candidates into applicants. Their Diversity AI boosts diverse candidates in the pipeline by up to 10x, helping level the playing field for all applicants by creating many versions of the job search and finding the approach that garners the most diverse pool of talent.
Joonko- Joonko is 'where silver medalists are matched with golden opportunities.' Their large, diverse talent pool is slightly STEM-heavy, but Joonko is very transparent about the diversity of their candidates. They also help ensure the company brand is attractive to diverse candidates by offering custom rejection letters that provide further opportunities while giving tools to transparently display the current diversity of the organization in job postings to help communicate your commitment to diversity.
Are you looking for more innovative tech for good companies? We're here to help - get in touch today.