Alumni - After Allens
Australian Ethical Investment
This interview was conducted in 2018.
Amanda's legal story began in the Allens Competition team, which led to her current position with Australian Ethical Investment making investments that avoid harming people, animals and the environment.
Can you detail your career story…
I worked at Allens for six years (not counting summer clerking), five of which were in the Competition team. During my time at Allens, I learnt from ridiculously smart, commercial and strategic people, and met my closest friends.
At the six-year mark, I had what might be called a career pivot and started a new position as an ethics analyst at Australian Ethical Investment. At this point in my 'career story', people might be wondering, 'What on earth is an ethics analyst?', which is fair enough, as most businesses don't have one. So, by way of brief explanation, Australian Ethical Investment is a fund manager and also Australia's fastest-growing super fund. We make investments in accordance with our Ethical Charter (unchanged since 1986). The Charter guides us to avoid investments that harm people, animals and the environment, and to seek out investments that support a sustainable future. As an ethics analyst, my job is to conduct ethics assessments of proposed investments. But my role extends to publicly advocating for change on ethical issues: eg through shareholder engagement, contributing to public discussion, or supporting the work of not-for-profit organisations.
But the thing that makes me go to work each morning is working for a company that is genuinely trying to have a positive impact through every facet of the business.
A typical day at work for me is…
- drafting a submission. For example, we recently responded to the Federal Government inquiry into why Australian super funds aren’t investing in the Australian agricultural sector. We took this opportunity to remind the Government of the human rights concerns involved, and the environmental and animal welfare challenges facing the sector.
- meeting with representatives of various banks and insurance companies, to ask them to reassess their exposure to the live animal export trade.
- eating peanut butter on toast, because it’s freely available in the kitchen and I have little self-control.
- researching the ethical issues facing a particular sector (eg aged care, health, real estate, food processing) and assessing how companies are managing those risks.
- giving an update to the board on the stances we are taking on ethical issues.
- responding to questions from members about our ethical decisions. I am asked interesting questions in relation to our position on nuclear energy, the exposure of various sectors to coal mining, supply chain sustainability issues and more. It's complicated but my experience at Allens ensures that I can see all perspectives.
- reading the ACCC media releases and the Allens Competition In Touch publication, because I have trouble letting go.
- researching legal issues for Animals Australia.
- playing table tennis and meditating, because we are 'one of those' companies.
The thing that makes me get out of bed and go to work each morning is…
our cat. But the thing that makes me go to work each morning is working for a company that is genuinely trying to have a positive impact through every facet of the business.
I'm also passionate about…
animal rights (you asked). For the last 2.5 years, I have been volunteering as a senior lawyer at the Animal Law Institute, running strategic litigation with the aim of improving animal protection in Australia.
The best bit of advice given to me was…
I have had the benefit of so much good advice. Here are my top two pieces:
'When things are rubbish, it’s probably because you’re learning' – Mum.
'Let go of the ego' – Grandpa. English was his second or third language, so he pronounced it 'egg-o', as though it rhymes with 'let go'... point being, it’s better when said out loud.
The best part of my role is…
learning about a whole new aspect of the world (investing) and spending my days trying to make a difference in areas I care about.
Most memorable Allens moment was…
presenting at the annual Allens Comp Law Fest. Everyone put so much effort into making the event relevant and enjoyable for clients, and they were always a lot of fun and a lot of stress at the same time.