Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 70.69
Liaison Careen Arsenault
Submission Date March 8, 2013
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Cornell University
PAE-T2-6: Socially Responsible Retirement Plan

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.25 / 0.25 Lynette Chappell-Williams
Associate VP
Workforce Diversity & Inclusion
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Does the institution offer a socially responsible investment option for retirement plans?:
Yes

A brief description of the socially responsible investment option for retirement plans:

Cornell University Retirement Plan offers 4 socially responsible investment options:
1. CREF Social Choice Account: This variable annuity account seeks a favorable long-term rate of return that reflects the investment performance of the financial markets while giving special consideration to certain social criteria. The account typically invests in a broadly diversified portfolio of domestic stocks (47%), foreign stocks (13%), and fixed-income securities (40%). In the case of equities and corporate bonds, the account invests only in companies that meet its screening criteria. Using specific environmental, social and governance criteria, the evaluation process seeks out companies that are: strong stewards of the environment; devoted to serving local communities and society in general; committed to high labor standards; dedicated to producing high-quality, safe products; and those managed in an ethical manner.
2. TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund: This fund seeks a favorable long-term return that reflects the investment performance of the overall U.S. stock market, as measured by the Russell 3000 Index, while giving special consideration to certain social criteria. It primarily invests in U.S.-based companies that are screened to meet or exceed certain environmental, social and governance criteria. The evaluation process seeks out companies that are: strong stewards of the environment; devoted to serving local communities and society in general; committed to high labor standards; dedicated to producing high-quality, safe products and those managed in an ethical manner. The fund may also invest in U.S. government securities and may hold up to 15% of its assets in foreign securities.
3. Domini Social Equity Fund Investor Class (offered through Fidelity Investments): This investment seeks long-term total return. The fund primarily invests in the equity securities of mid and large-capitalization U.S. companies. Under normal circumstances, it will invest 80% of the assets in equity securities and related investment with similar economic characteristics. The Fund may also invest in companies organized or traded outside the U.S. To determine which securities are eligible for investment by the Fund, Domini will evaluate current and potential holdings against its social and environmental standards to assess the quality of a corporation’s relations with communities, customers, ecosystems, employees, investors, and suppliers. Domini may determine that a security is eligible for investment even if a corporation’s profile reflects a mixture of positive and negative social and environmental characteristics.
4. Neuberger Berman Socially Responsive Investment Fund (offered through Fidelity Investments): This fund seeks long-term growth of capital. It mainly invests in common stocks of mid- to large-cap companies across many different industries. Social criteria include leadership in environmental concerns, diversity in the work force, progressive employment and workplace practices, and community relations.
Cornell University Tax Deferred Annuity Plan offers the same 4 socially responsible investment options as described above.
Cornell University 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan offers the same 2 socially responsible investment options from TIAA-CREF as described above.
State University of New York Optional Retirement Plan offers 6 socially responsible investment options, including the same 2 socially responsible investment options from TIAA-CREF as described above and:
3. Calvert VP SRI Social Balanced Portfolio (offered through ING and MetLife): This fund seeks total return by investing about 60% of assets in stocks and 40% in bonds or other fixed-income investments. The equity portion of the Portfolio is primarily a large cap core U.S. domestic portfolio, although the Portfolio may also invest in foreign stocks and mid-cap stocks. It invests in companies and other enterprises that demonstrate positive environmental, social and governance performance as they address corporate responsibility and sustainability challenges.
4. Calvert VP SRI Mid-Cap Growth Portfolio (offered through MetLife): This fund seeks long-term capital appreciation by investing at least 80% of assets in the common stocks of small-cap companies with market capitalization within the range of the Russell MidCap Growth Index. It may also invest up to 25% of net assets in foreign securities. The fund invests in companies and other enterprises that demonstrate positive environmental, social and governance performance as they address corporate responsibility and sustainability challenges.
5. ING Global Resources Fund: This fund seeks long-term capital appreciation by investing 80% of net assets in the equities of natural resources industries located in a number of different countries, including the United States. It may invest up to a maximum of 50% of net assets in any single industry that is engaged in specified natural resources. The fund normally invests in companies with a large market capitalization, but may also invest in mid- and small-sized companies.
6. Global Social Awareness Fund (offered through VALIC): This fund seeks to obtain growth of capital through investment in companies that meet the social criteria established by the fund. It normally invests at least 80% of net assets in the common stocks of companies that are domiciled in the U.S. and foreign companies, meeting the fund’s social criteria. It may invest approximately 50% of net assets in foreign securities. The fund’s investment in foreign securities does not exceed 60% of net assets. It may invest up to 20% of net assets in the securities of other types of companies meeting the social criteria, including preferred stock, convertible securities and high-quality money market securities and warrants.
New York State Employees’ Retirement System is a defined benefit plan that is governed by the New York State Office of State Comptroller and invests total assets for the benefit of all members. The Division of Pension Investment and Cash Management are responsible for the management of the assets of the Common Retirement Fund. The Fund established the Green Strategic Investment Program in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, committing to invest $500 million in environmentally-focused investment strategies across all asset classes. As of March 31, 2012, commitments aggregating $400 million have been made in public equity, private equity and fixed income.
In public equity, the Fund continues to invest in two index funds focusing on sustainability and climate change. The HSBC Climate Change Index Fund and the FTSE Environmental Technology 50 invest in companies finding solutions to the challenges of climate change and energy scarcity. A newly established Sustainability Working Group is now looking at alternative active strategies to complement the index funds.

In private equity, the Fund invested $100 million in Hudson Clean Energy Partners, a fund committed to renewable energy companies. The Fund continued to invest through its in-state program in companies focused on clean energy and sustainability in New York State. See the Financing for Businesses in New York State section on pages 68-69.
The Fund has also invested $100 million in World Bank green bonds which support projects in the World Bank’s member countries that meet specific criteria for low carbon development. Purchasing these bonds provided a rare opportunity for the Fund to support climate change solutions within its fixed income portfolio at competitive prices. Investment strategies include: investments in under-managed real estate that will be repositioned and re-leased as the economy recovers at a slower pace; focus on geographic markets that still exhibit early-recovery or growth characteristics; and investments in trophy properties in irreplaceable locations with appeal to global tenants. Examples of these opportunities include investments in real estate in line with green standards such as LEED — certification which gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. Finally, the Fund recognizes the talent and expertise of small managers in the real estate arena and, subject to meeting the Fund’s fiduciary duties to the retirees and beneficiaries, is seeking to invest with emerging managers.


The website URL where information about the program, policy, or practice is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.