I've expressed skepticism in the past that the sell side could add much to the social investment world, but there is a lot going on now, some of it very interesting.
Daniel Fermon, Senior Europe Strategist at Société Générale, is doing work that incorporates traditional financial research, social/governance research (from Société Générale's SRI researchers, Sarbjit Nahal and Valéry Lucas-Leclin), and his own innovative views on the role of the CEO in investment returns. There is a brief but interesting interview with him here.
In coming years I believe markets will gradually grow more efficient with respect to traditional investment variables such as valuation and momentum, making it tougher for traditional investment strategies to add value. As that happens, researchers will have to dig deeper into predictors of sustainable value creation, such as management quality and governance. Fermon's work shows how this type of analysis can be done.