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The chaos behind doing the right thing

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The chaos behind doing the right thing

There’s a terrific piece in The Times today by Rupert Soames, the boss of Serco Group, about all this ESG stuff.

You know it as Environmental, Social and Governance, which is clunky. I prefer this description: try to be nicer.

He’s not against the idea. He just thinks that the way it gets measured is “chaotic and often subjective”, with different analysts “often giving wildly different assessments of a company’s standing”.

Moreover, while we all like the idea of being nicer, along the way we collectively have to do all sorts of non-ESG friendly things.

He cites as examples: making weapons, imprisoning people, sending failed asylum seekers back.

You can be against those things all you like, but someone is going to have to do it, which means someone is going to have to pay for it.

Which means that refusing to invest in those things, having a high-and-mighty, look-how-great-we-are policy, may not be so clean. It might just be a cop out.

How can you influence the energy industry if you won’t own its shares, even while you hypocritically use its products to cook and keep warm?

This issue has been going one way for way too long, with the corporate world patting itself on the back for trying to do the right thing and bragging about it.

The PR gains from this always looked debatable to me.

The Soames piece might be the start of a much better conversation. Saving the planet is way harder than the ESG folk have been letting on.

Press release of the day

How safe is your data with the taxman? Not very, suggests this from Griffin Law.

More than 3000 people were affected by “data-related incidents” in the 15 months to March.

An extract: “The most alarming infringement saw a HMRC employee caught accessing an internal system to locate his estranged wife and children, potentially affecting a total of four people.”

The numbers seem low, but if you can’t trust HMRC, who can you?

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