Finance: Ethical terms 'becoming meaningless' - Triodos

Triodos bank is challenging British consumers, financial institutions and the Government to reconsider their attitudes towards ethical investment and think seriously about how finance can make a social impact.

Its new report, published last week, claims that terms such as 'ethical' and 'socially responsible investment' are being made redundant through overuse.

The Future of Finance accused commercial banks that pursue corporate responsibility activities of making "little more than a gesture towards sustainability". It also encouraged the public to help create a sustainable economy through "conscious investment".

"There are so many claims being made at the moment and a lot of the terminology is getting very woolly," said James Vaccaro, head of investment banking at Triodos. "Certain words are being used so much that they are becoming meaningless. We have to challenge ourselves, our customers, banks and the Government's thinking on ethical finance. We are now putting our heads above the parapet and saying what we think.

"So many companies are tagging on to the idea of being environmentally friendly for commercial reasons, but we have to give people an idea of what the reality is. Finance can unlock all that, but the finance world is not responding."

Vaccaro admitted that Triodos was "trying to disrupt things a bit" to emphasise the disconnection between what people think is happening and what steps are actually being taken.

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