The Blog

Balancing Act: Corporate Responsibility in the Age of Ethical Investing

Dec 27, 2023 | Investors


In the contemporary investment world, the focus has shifted towards not only financial performance but also the ethical and sustainability practices of corporations. This shift is particularly prominent among Millennial and Gen Z investors who are increasingly aware of global injustices and environmental challenges. This article explores key factors that contribute to ethics and sustainability in businesses, using examples from various public limited companies (PLCs) like Glencore, British American Tobacco (BAT), and BP, illustrating the need for heightened corporate responsibility.

Environmental Impact and Carbon Emissions

Environmental stewardship is a critical aspect of corporate sustainability. Companies like Glencore, with its significant coal mining operations, and BP, known for its oil and gas production, have faced criticism for their environmental footprints. Glencore’s struggle to balance coal production with its net-zero emissions goal by 2050 reflects a broader challenge faced by many in the extractive industries. Similarly, BP’s revision of its emissions reduction targets from oil and gas highlights the complexities in transitioning to greener energy sources. This trend is not limited to BP alone; other major oil companies are also grappling with balancing profitability and environmental responsibility. The key issue lies in aligning business practices with the global urgency to combat climate change, a task demanding substantive action and transparent progress from these corporations.

Human Rights and Ethical Conduct

Respecting human rights and maintaining ethical conduct are paramount for any socially responsible company. Glencore, for instance, has been implicated in human rights violations and corrupt practices in various countries. These issues are not isolated incidents but rather indicative of broader challenges within industries that have historically prioritized profit over people. Similarly, BAT’s recent settlement for violating U.S. sanctions and doing business with North Korea raises questions about the ethical considerations in corporate decision-making. The responsibility extends beyond individual companies to the entire industry, calling for a collective effort to uphold ethical standards and human rights across all operations.

Health and Consumer Safety

The health impact of products and services is another crucial element of corporate responsibility. The tobacco industry, with companies like BAT at the forefront, faces ongoing scrutiny over the health risks associated with its products. This concern is exacerbated by marketing practices and operations in regions with minimal tobacco regulations. The challenge for such industries is to balance commercial interests with the health and well-being of consumers, a task that requires a fundamental re-evaluation of business models and product offerings.

Investor Engagement and Transparency

Effective engagement with investors and transparency in business operations are essential for fostering trust and accountability. BP’s recent policy changes regarding climate goals, which were communicated inadequately to shareholders, underline the importance of transparent and inclusive decision-making processes. Companies need to recognize that investor relations are not just about financial returns but also about aligning corporate strategies with ethical and sustainability principles. This approach demands open communication and a commitment to incorporating investor concerns into corporate governance.


The responsibility of PLCs like Glencore, BAT, BP, and other companies extends beyond financial performance to encompass environmental sustainability, human rights, health considerations, and transparent investor relations. As the investment world evolves with a growing emphasis on ethical and sustainable practices, it becomes increasingly important for companies to integrate these values into their core operations. By doing so, they not only align with the evolving expectations of modern investors but also contribute to a more sustainable and equitable global economy.


Join TEA! Let's shape the financial inclusion agenda together by facilitating inclusive investor engagement. Sign up now for FREE!

Join us

Sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date