Robert Augustus Gardner Monks is a shareholder activist and co-founder of Institutional Shareholder Services Lens Investment Management, Lens Governance Advisors and The Corporate Library (now part of GMI Ratings). He is the author of Corpocracy and The New Global Investors and, with Nell Nom Watching the Watchers, Corporate Governance and Power & Accountability. He was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Maine in 1976, losing in a landslide to Democratic Senator Edmund Muskie. He again ran for Senate in 1996, but lost that Republican primary to Susan Collins. He also unsuccessfully challenged longtime Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith in the 1972 Republican primary.
Monks is the son of Rev. G. Gardner Monks and Katharine Knowles. Rev. Monks was the founding headmaster of Lenox School for Boys and Canon of the Washington Cathedral.
A cousin of Monks' grandmother- from whom came his second name- was the politician Augustus Peabody Gardner. Monks was educated at St. Paul's School, Harvard College, Cambridge University and Harvard Law School. At Cambridge, he was a member of the winning Cambridge University Boat Club boat in the 1955 edition of The Boat Race, a storied competition between Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Monks married Millicent Carnegie Sprague in July 1954.
After graduating from law school, Monks became a partner in a law firm in Boston. He was vice president of Gardner Associates and then was president and CEO of C.H. Sprague & Son, a coal and oil Company. Then he was a board member and later chairman of the Board of The Boston Safe Deposit & Trust Company and the Boston Company. Ronald Reagan appointed him as director of the United States Synthetic Fuels Corporation and as one of the founding Trustees of the Federal Employees' Retirement System. He worked for the US Department of Labor as Administrator of the Office of Pension and Welfare Benefit Programs which gave him jurisdiction over the whole U.S. pension system.
Monks has written widely about corporate governance and has published more than a hundred papers in publications around the world. He was the recipient of the Award for Outstanding Financial Executive from the Financial Management Association in 2007.
Monks is the subject of a biography chronicling the corporate governance movement, A Traitor to His Class by Hilary Rosenberg.