Heather Lang steps down after allegations that Morningstar subsidiary blacklists companies that do business in Israel
Alana Goodman • August 8, 2022 1:30 pm
A senior executive at the ratings giant Sustainalytics—who spent years working at an anti-Israel advocacy group—announced last week that she is stepping down amid scrutiny of the company’s reliance on sources that critics say lead to bias and discrimination against Israeli companies.
Heather Lang, a onetime official at the anti-Israel activist organization B’Tselem, announced last week her departure as a senior vice president at Sustainalytics, a subsidiary of the corporate-ratings giant Morningstar, after 18 years at the company.
“Tomorrow is my last day at Sustainalytics after an incredible 18-year journey!” wrote Lang in a social media post last week. “It’s been an absolute privilege to work with such wonderful colleagues and friends.”
The news comes as Sustainalytics—one of the major ratings agencies that score companies based on their environmental, social, and governance practices—has faced allegations that its scoring system is biased against Israel and that it downgrades companies that help the Jewish state’s national security operations. Prior to joining Sustainalytics, Lang worked at B’Tselem, a self-described human rights group that asserts that “Israel’s regime of apartheid and occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations,” according to its website. NGO Monitor, a watchdog group that monitors Middle East organizations, describes B’Tselem as “part of a network of NGOs that promote artificial and manufactured definitions of apartheid to extend the ongoing campaigns that seek to delegitimize and demonize Israel.”
Morningstar enlisted law firm White & Case to conduct an internal investigation into potential anti-Israel bias at Sustainalytics. This came after the Illinois Investment Policy Board, a state commission, launched a probe into whether the company was in violation of Illinois laws against anti-Israel boycotts.
Lang’s presence at Sustainalytics raises questions about the neutrality of its executives, a week after the Missouri attorney general launched an investigation into allegations of anti-Israel bias at the ratings giant.
Lang did not indicate that her departure is related to the investigation or allegations of bias. But Israel advocates said the company should be cautious about anti-Israel activism among its leadership.
“If Morningstar is serious about rooting out anti-Israel bias in their ranks, it would behoove them to ensure no more of their officers have a history of demonizing the Jewish state,” a former Israeli government official told the Washington Free Beacon.
Lang did not respond to a request for comment. Sustainalytics did not respond to a request for comment.
According to an online biography of Lang, posted by a conference at which she spoke, she previously worked as a “corporate social responsibility consultant and spent several years living in Israel, working for leading human rights watchdog organization B’Tselem.”
While at B’Tselem, Lang was the editor of the group’s 1999 Human Rights Report, which accused Israel of various humanitarian abuses, including blocking water from Palestinians and discriminatory deportations.
Lang’s prior work for B’Tselem was not mentioned in the White & Case probe.
According to the White & Case investigation, Sustainalytics has relied on research from Who Profits, a group that supports boycott campaigns against Israel.
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