“Don’t confuse the fringe with the frontier.”

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My interest in the environment and social issues started early.

My interest took hold when I was a growing up surfing and playing in garage bands on the West Coast in the 1960s and 70s — but it’s also in my DNA. My family has a long history of looking at business sustainably. Fuller Callaway, my great grandfather, was a successful entrepreneur who acted in many ways on his belief that “What’s good for the community is good for business.” To him, and to me, it makes perfect sense.

Before I began to focus all of my energies on sustainable investing, I earned a BA in Political Science and then went to work in the financial services industry (where I’ve continued to work for more than 30 years, 20 of them with major investment firms). I received my MBA from LaGrange College and later returned there to teach Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management as an adjunct professor. I wasn’t focused on sustainable investing during this time because it was in its infancy and I was meeting my need to sustain community by being highly involved in organizations that had social, educational and artistic missions. I still am and always will be — currently I’m a trustee of the Foundation for Advancement of Corporate Sustainability, for example, where I’m working to create greater awareness about the business case for sustainability.

I’ve served for 25 years as a third generation trustee on the boards of two Callaway family foundations.

Mark C. Callaway

Mark C. Callaway

I am proud to be part of these foundations that my great-grandfather created in the early 1900s. I have also created my own foundation, called The Morningstar Foundation, that my children and I run together. My youngest son is still a child but when he turns 16, he’ll be on the Board of Directors, too. My wife, Ansley, is a CPA and financial analyst, so there’s a lot of discussion in our household about investments and good stewardship, as you might imagine.

It was about 15 years ago that I made a conscious decision to focus on investments that make a positive impact.

Officially this focus is called Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) or, most recently, Impact Investing. They all mean basically the same thing. Since around 2000 I’ve seen SRI/ESG grow in other areas of the world and now, finally, it’s taking off in mainstream America. The more involved I became in SRI/ESG, the more interested I became in the actions of the corporations headquartered in my own backyard. So in 2009, along with Stephanie Armistead, I co-founded the Southeast Corporate Sustainability Rankings. It ranks publicly traded companies according to standardized environmental, social and governance scores.

What’s our personal score for sustainability?

If we stop to think about it, it’s not hard to see how the way we invest — and divest — our capital can make a difference to the issues that matter to us. And a lot of us would prefer to have our capital and portfolios align with our values, supporting the things we like and not supporting the things we don’t. More and more of us are choosing this approach, in fact. I am seeing a fundamental change in the way people are choosing to invest their money going forward.

I’m happy to report that there’s more and more data backing us up as well. There are dozens of studies completed both by those who support sustainable investing and those who have been skeptical about it and the results are the same. Investing your capital to align with your values can deliver a comparable financial return to investing with only the bottom-line in mind. The data is real and so is the movement, even at the highest levels of government. And I must say it’s exciting to me personally, after all these years, to see the concept of “business as community” come to life in our own country as it has in countries around the world.

I want to share my passion for issues related to sustainable investing here on my blog, mc2, and hopefully learn from you, too.

This blog is a personal blog and is purely for discussion and sharing. It is not for doing business of any kind or for giving investment advice. There are plenty of other places for that. Please read my disclaimer.

I thank you for stopping by, and I encourage you to click around, comment on posts and send me ideas for other posts using the Contact page or email. Please let me know what you’re thinking and if you have any questions. And if you visit the linked websites, papers and articles, I’m sure you’ll come away knowing more about this very important subject. It’s good stuff.