ESG investing claims to pursue both profits and morals at once. Does it work? : The Indicator from Planet Money In part two of our ESG series, we speak with two insiders who have been involved with ESG since before it was cool. To them, it's come a long way — and is now mainstream enough to have a real impact.

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Impact investing, part 2: Can money meet morals?

Impact investing, part 2: Can money meet morals?

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images
In this aerial view wind turbines spin on May 10, 2021 near Bernau, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

In part one of our series on ESG investing yesterday, a former sustainable investor came down pretty hard on the concept. He articulated some of the most compelling arguments against ESG: it's challenging for money managers to actually consider the social impact of their investments without betraying their duty to maximize profits for their clients, and companies will inevitably care much more about the reputational benefits they get from promoting ESG than the true impact of actually practicing it

In today's episode, we hear from two voices on the other side of the debate. 15 years ago, ESG was in its Wild West era. Almost no companies released data on the social or environmental impact of their operations, or even bothered to keep track in the first place. ESG investing jobs just didn't exist. And since then ... it seems like things have gotten better? Data shows that many ESG-focused portfolios outperform traditional investments. Social impact has become a much higher corporate priority. Yes, ESG might not be perfect — but should it be here to stay?

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