If you missed this semester’s first professional partnerships event last Wednesday, no worries! Here’s a recap of guest speaker Katherine Hamilton’s presentation on impactful investing, philanthropy, and ESG.

Hamilton is a Northeastern professor in San Francisco, and runs her own consulting business with a focus on conservation finance. She started the night off with a discussion on change and challenges: global norms are being disrupted and as a result, adaptability and problem solving are paramount. Attendees shared global challenges that mattered to them, with responses ranging from climate change to racial discrimination to mental health advocacy. 

Hamilton approached the growing significance of these issues with a positive outlook: we are living in an increasingly transparent world due to factors like social media, that make these issues more accessible to reform and change. With all these problems come opportunities to make the world better through business.

Hamilton then breached the topic of sustainable investing — which has grown significantly in popularity in the last few years through people’s general desire to support brands that are socially aware and responsible. Sustainable investing is not a new idea, though, as it has a rich history spanning centuries and ties to religions like Judaism and Islam.

Hamilton’s event prompted several interesting topics of discussion, such as whether attendees believed they could turn a profit by investing in a social or environmental cause, and recent purchases made that aligned with personal values. She presented company advertisements that encouraged sustainability or social justice, and explained the difference between “traditional capitalism” vs shared value.

Hamilton discussed corporate social responsibility, and explained ESG (environmental social governance). She described motivation to engage in  impact investing as a spectrum: on one end is social value, in which there is no return on financial investment, and on the other is financial value, where money is the primary driver.

As for how college students could get involved in impact investing, Hamilton stressed the significance of every consumers’ choices, and urged students to get involved in their own investments and engage in clubs/work that resonates with their values.