In this episode of Capital for Good, we begin by asking Martin Whittaker, the founding CEO of JUST Capital, about his own extensive and varied career in sustainable business and investing. We discuss various developments in the last several years, vastly accelerated by the COVID-19 health, economic, and racial crises, which have elevated the “S” in “ESG,” shining a spotlight on social concerns — issues of worker health and well-being, diversity, equity, inclusion, racial justice — alongside calls for action on the “E” of environmental sustainability and climate change. Whittaker notes that companies have seen that “silence is not really an option” on a range of social and environmental issues. Accordingly, JUST Capital, which has historically relied on “data, measurement, metrics, rankings, etc.” to influence corporate behavior, now finds these tools “necessary, but not sufficient” and is partnering more closely with companies — “playing an inside game” — to help them become more responsive to the needs and values of the American people.
Mentioned in this episode:
- The Coronavirus is a Test of Stakeholder Leadership: Here’s Why, Martin Whittaker (Forbes, 2020)
- Is COVID-19 Killing Shareholder Primacy?, Martin Whittaker (Forbes, 2020)
- 2021 Rankings (JUST Capital)
- Corporate Racial Equity Tracker (JUST Capital)
- Worker Financial Wellness Initiative (JUST Capital)
- COVID-19 Corporate Response Tracker (JUST Capital)
About Martin Whittaker
Martin Whittaker is the founding CEO of JUST Capital and is responsible for the overall leadership of the organization. He is also co-founder and board member of the CREO Syndicate, a family office investment network; a board member of the Carbon Disclosure Project US; and a member of the Forbes finance council and Forbes contributor. He was recently named to the 2020 NACD Directorship 100 — the annual list of the most influential people in the board room and on corporate governance — and to Business Insider’s 2020 List of 100 People Transforming Business. Previously, Whittaker was a founding partner and investment committee member at Sonen Capital, an impact investing firm, where he led private equity, real asset, and direct investing activities. Whittaker has also served as director of MissionPoint Capital Partners, a family office-led private equity firm; senior vice president at Swiss Re, where he was part of the environmental and commodity markets team; and managing director at Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, Inc., a pioneering sustainable investment advisory and research firm. Whittaker received his PhD from University of Edinburgh, an MBA from the University of London, an MSc from McGill University and a BSc from University of St. Andrews.
About the Capital for Good Podcast
Presented by the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, and hosted by Georgia Levenson Keohane, seasoned executive, award winning author, and an adjunct professor of social enterprise at Columbia Business School, the Capital for Good podcast provides a chance to hear from corporate and civic leaders about their visions, plans, commitments, and on the ground efforts to build a more just, inclusive, and sustainable society. Each episode features in depth and candid conversations with leaders across the private, nonprofit, and public sectors on unpacking solutions to some of our most urgent challenges. Learn more at bit.ly/KforGood.