ESG. What next? The industry is in a muddle, marketing demands an ESG product, fund managers have to find the right investments to fit into lots of different boxes, ie green preferences and there are a multitude of them.
We need to dial the debate back to ourselves to our own ESG credentials. Before we start imposing demands on others and creating products. By our own ESG, what do I mean?
Firstly, Environment, are you in the right place? Are you in your mind or in your body. It’s commonly believed that the mind is for thinking, thinking through solutions, and coming up with decisions, wrong. The mind is a great analytical tool, and given a test, it will probably produce results as good as, if not better than artificial intelligence, our correct decision making process depends upon using our unique individual design. Some people can initiate projects without any external input. Some have to be invited to contribute some need to respond to a particular request, if your design is to wait for the invitation but you initiate a project, without that invitation, that project will very meet resistance from others and that will make you feel bitter instead of having that feeling of success you get when an invitation is received properly. There’s a lot more to this. But if we find that we are in the mind and thinking all the time then we need to think about how to connect with our body, which is a pretty amazing piece of machinery, given that it’s already carrying out many tasks without any input from us. The breath is key to connecting to the body. Belly breathing, breathing deeply using the diaphragm, not the upper chest breathing which is part of our fight and flight mechanism. Watch your baby or your cat or dog. They breathe from their belly.
Once the connection is made that you can start to listen to your body and how it responds to the inputs from the senses, including the thoughts. Very often when for example we are eating, we will often override the body’s cry to stop, because the food is so delicious or we must have a dessert or maybe we just get so used to eating a huge bowl full of food that we assume that the ache from our stomach is normal. Watching our thoughts as an input is as important as the input from the five senses so we have a sixth sense if you like. And it’s here where the correct decision making process starts. How does that thought sit within your physical and emotional body.
On the Social front. Well, naturally we are social beings. And we learned from an early age maxims like don’t rock the boat, don’t speak until you’re spoken to, don’t speak ill of others. Some of these maxims are really helpful, and some less so. And each individual will have their own unique blend of conditioning, but we have to find out what really works for us. We can’t be friends with everyone, but let’s not be enemies either. You should be able to discern what is right for you by using your unique decision making process. It’s often the case that this may mean parting company with people, but that opens up space to let others in.
Finally Governance. This gets us towards the crux of ESG for individuals. What is our life’s purpose, what is our core stability. In other words, what are our core values. And do we live a life that resonates with those values, or does our thinking and conditioning get in the way.
Are we being honest about who we really are. When we can answer that question, we can then think about how to best approach the ESG issue from an investment perspective that embraces these ideals, without being prescriptive but operates for the greater good for the greatest number of people.