"Leadership is sharing a vision and creating a culture that others can join; owning the bad times and the good; and taking responsibility."

— Geeta Aiyer

Geeta%20Aiyer Geeta%20Aiyer

Geeta Aiyer

President and founder, Boston Common Asset Management

Geeta Aiyer, president and founder of Boston Common Asset Management, has been a pioneer in the socially responsible investing field since 1988.

Several points of pride she cites from her career so far include creating SRI industry data and metrics 25 years ago, which proved that investors can use a diversified portfolio with credible performance records in this space and can use their voices as engaged shareholders.

"These have given me a lot of joy," she said. "We've tried to build an organization that's consistent with this pursuit; it's not just a business. We've offset carbon and our firm is diverse, with 80% owned and led by women."

In the late '80s, Ms. Aiyer noticed a new trend of retrofitting conventional portfolios. Clients began to request ethical folios, for example those without sin stocks or weapons-related companies.

In 1994, she decided to start her own firm based on SRI principles that were executed globally. She was determined.

"It was important to me," she said. "I couldn't convince others [to practice this way], so I had to do it myself. I was in my 30s, so I felt had the time to fail, but then still be employable."

The firm was so successful it was purchased by a bank, and she spun out on her own again at the end of 2002 to found Boston Common.

Ms. Aiyer is passionate about her global mission.

"Not doing socially responsible investing will have a big impact on the world's growth rate in the future," she said. "We've over-consumed economically and ecologically and we've not provided enough options for equal opportunity and mobility."

Deborah Nason

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