Investing in Your Values

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As the demand for an American-style quality of life continues to spread around the world, the demand for natural resources such as wood, oil, coal, etc. are also continuing to rise. The result – devastated ecosystems, an increase in world conflicts and militarism, and a rapidly widening gap between the ultra-rich and the very poor. Not to mention the increasingly dicey state of the world’s investment markets!

In such times, how can you avoid funding militarism, environmental destruction, or economic exploitation with your investment portfolio? Fortunately, there is a way…socially responsible investing, a well-established concept that is growing in popularity.

A growing number of investment brokers are making it their business to identify safe investments… not only companies who use the highest principles in their bookkeeping, but also in their business ethics: no sweatshops, no military contracts, no environmentally risky practices. Not only this: these brokers give you a stronger voice in determining the policies of companies in which you hold stock.

With SRI, you have the power to use your investments to influence publicly held companies or to support community organizations and companies that support humanitarian or environmental values. Generally, socially responsible investors and brokers use three methods to do this:

  • Including or excluding securities from a portfolio based on social/environmental standards
  • Using significant shares in a company to foster responsible corporate decisions
  • Investing in people and organizations who might otherwise not be able to obtain money from mainstream lending sources

The following organizations offer information and services to help you as a socially responsible investor…

One Socially Responsible Investment Firm’s Response to Occupy Wall Street… provides detailed information about specific social mutual funds, community investment opportunities and shareowner action, as well as daily news and investment advice.

Money Wisdom is an information site that offers an excellent primer on the principles behind SRI. They offer a four-point method for establishing a portfolio:

  • Negative screening
  • Positive screening
  • Global diversity
  • Personal vision

Calvert Investments offers opportunities to invest in companies demonstrating environmental efficiency and awareness, workforce diversity, product safety and quality, innovative personnel policies, and positive corporate citizenship. Calvert also offers two offshoots dedicated to community development:

  • Calvert Foundation is dedicated to community investment, directing investors’ funds to community development organizations in the United States and around the world.
  • Calvert Giving allows you to dedicate gifts to the charities of your choice through “a personal philanthropic account. Your funds remain in the account, but are directed toward investments with “high social and environmental impact.”

Green America offers a wide range of services and products that support humanitarian efforts. One of these is SocialInvest.Org, which provides information and opportunities for socially responsible investments.


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