Our Statement of Investment Beliefs explains our visions for what a university endowment should, and can, do.
If the Harvard community wishes for our university to have a more sustainable, more responsible endowment, we must organize to demand the following:
1. Responsible ownership of directly-held companies.
- Harvard holds a controlling stake–that is, it is a majority shareholder, majority owner, or full owner–of hundreds of companies and funds.
- These companies must follow campus standards for legal compliance, environmental practices, labor practices, land rights, non-discrimination policies,and transparency in corporate governance.
2. Create a transparent policy to incorporate environmental, social and governance due diligence into all aspects of the investment portfolio
- Traditional financial measures are mostly backward looking and provide information on short-term investment performance. In contrast, ESG analysis can identify long-term investment risks and opportunities that are critically important for institutional investors with multi-decade planning horizons.
- ESG performance can impact a corporation’s ability to expand to new markets, attract skilled employees, build a positive brand, and avoid unexpected liability.
3. Disclosure mechanism for past investments
- We recognize that releasing strategic investment information would be damaging to Harvard’s long-term interests.
- Disclosing past investment information after a reasonable period of time has passed would foster transparency without undermining our investment strategy.
4. Strengthen the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility and the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility
- The ACSR and the CCSR are the only entities designed to take on complex issues of broader social responsibility, and their mandates have not kept up with the changing nature of our investments, most notably greater activity in private equity and emerging markets exposure.
- Increase the ACSR and CCSR’s purview beyond proxy voting so that they can proactively advise HMC on controversial investments and work to institutionalize the consideration of ESG risk.