Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What's in a name?

The SIO Board is considering options related to branding of the SIO, and of the term Socially Responsible Investment. The term SRI has been debated and discussed extensively in Canada and abroad for many years. Some members and potential members of the SIO have raised concerns about the term SRI, and have argued that SIO should move to rebrand the concept. At the same time, the name of the Social Investment Organization itself, with its brand rooted in the concept of social investment may no longer be the best label that reflects the work they do and the member companies they serve.

Over the past few years, the SIO's American sister organization has moved from being the Social Investment Forum to Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. Similarly Eurosif is the European Sustainable Investment Forum and UKSIF is now promoting 'sustainable and responsible finance'.

The term 'social' is now more often used in areas like social finance, social enterprise and other types of impact investing that are not necessarily focused on publicly traded companies. But the social issues addressed by SRI have not disappeared. They are reflected in the increased use of ESG (environmental, social, governance)as a way of quantifying SRI.

The SIO is sending out a survey today to members asking them for their thoughts on the name and branding of the SIO. But I believe this is a discussion that the broader SRI community can, and should, also engage in.

What do you think of the term 'social'? Are it's connotations positive or negative? How should we sort out all these various terms? Is there something to be said for consistency?

Solutions? Ideas? Let us know what you think.

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