DOI: 10.1111/beer.12625 ISSN: 2694-6416

Companies' ethical certification and their attractiveness to institutional investors: An intermediate signaling perspective

Ahmad K. Ismail, Dima Jamali, Samer Khalil, Assem Safieddine, Georges Samara
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Philosophy
  • Business and International Management


Our research investigates how the inclusion of a company on an independent ethics index affects its attractiveness to institutional investors. Using a sample of 864 U.S. firms over the 2010–2018 period, we find that institutional investors significantly increase their holdings in companies in the quarter that they are included on the ethics index and maintain larger holdings in the four quarters following the inclusion on the Ethisphere list relative to pre‐inclusion period, with dedicated institutional investors being more swayed to invest than transient investors. This paper adds to the emerging literature on intermediate signaling by showing that a firm's inclusion on an ethics index reduces information asymmetry with institutional investors. Our evidence suggests that public companies should effectively, rather than ceremonially, adopt sound governance structures and invest in socially responsible activities, as these actions can increase their likelihood of being included on ethics indices. By doing so, these firms send credible signals about their ethical compass, granting them access to valuable institutional investments.

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