Corporations – and in this master’s course particularly corporations from the financial sector – are challenged increasingly with the question of their social responsibilities regarding society and the environment. In addition to legal compliance a corporation’s social responsibilities have two dimensions: reducing harm previously produced through externalities of the corporation’s activities. And secondly. CSR as business opportunity for developing new products, reinventing the corporation’s mission or political contribution to transnational agendas such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
In the financial sector not only CSR is of increasing relevance, but as a consequence also the development of financial products, that are in line with social responsibility (also sustainable or responsible finance). This is called socially responsible investment (SRI) or mission or impact investment covering secular ethical norms as well as religiously framed normative claims as in ‘islamic finance’ for example.
The course starts with a general introduction in CSR with a special focus on communication covering issues as main theories of CSR, the temptation of misleading CSR communication (aka Greenwashing) and as a core topic reporting and disclosure of CSR data. A second chapter of the course sheds light more specifically on sustainable finance and socially responsible investment providing an overview of the existing concepts. A core question is the possible conflict between a financial corporation’s fiduciary duty and the recognition of normative demands such as CSR or sustainably, partly in breach with a corporations’s fiduciary duty. The course builds on case studies and research on institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds and here particularly their ethical investment guidelines as communication tools to internally and externally promote sustainable finance. Furthermore the existing soft-law standards and norms in the industry are discussed to guide companies the way into the world of CSR and SRI.
100 % Exam
Prerequisite to take the exam is a presentation in the course on a given topic