Toward corporate responsibility

Date published: 2008-08-18 12:13:14 PM

Increasingly, those responsible for large Canadian pension funds are turning to Tessa Hebb’s expertise to ensure their investments flourish. Hebb, director of the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation, received the William E. Taylor fellowship in 2003 as the top doctoral candidate of that year. Her work? To research how pension funds interact with—and influence—the corporations in which they invest.

Pension funds are some of the largest corporate investors in the world and are understandably concerned about the long-term performance of their investments. Prior to 2001, it was illegal in Canada for investors to collaborate with one another about a corporation’s activities. Today, pensionfund investors are beginning to recognize their tremendous power to effect constructive change within an organization. As an example, some pension funds now expect the corporations they invest in to adopt forward-looking environmental practices.

Canadian pension funds are in the early stages of such positive engagement. Hebb assists many funds, including the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, using a case-study method that teaches best practices of corporate engagement.

Tessa Hebb, economic geography, Carleton University