Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Socially Responsible Investing

Socially responsible investing is all the rage these days, with investors boycotting companies that exploit rainforests, emit high amounts of pollution, or have insensitive HR practices. While normally these types of "irresponsible" corporate behavior are items I don't consider, a recent proxy for my mutual fund got me thinking.

It read:

"Shareholder proposal for ... [list of fund names] ... concerning Board oversight procedures to screen out investments in companies that substantially contribute to genocide."
Well that got my attention.

While I'm okay with minor corporate indiscretions, I was definitely curious as to how contributing to genocide could possible add value to a company. So as with any question I don't know the answer to, I did a Google search.

I found this page: "Investors Against Genocide". In the FAQ, they answer:
"Although federal law prevents most US companies from operating in Sudan, American financial institutions, in particular mutual fund companies, are major investors in the Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian oil companies involved in Sudan which are helping to fund this genocide."
Essentially, the Sudanese government is taking the oil revenues generated and plowing it into its war effort, which explicitly supports the genocide they are committing.

Certainly I had no idea that such investments in genocide were occurring. The above website is worth checking out for any socially conscious investor.

I definitely am voting for this shareholder proposal, and standing up against genocide.


Rachel @ Master Your Card said...

Wow - thanks for briging this to my attention. I had heard about investing in environmentaly responsible companies but it had never occured to me that companies were adding to this sort of thing.

Teri Garrett said...

Thank you for this great post on socially responsible investing. You may find this interesting:

FOLIOfn Teams with Genocide Intervention Network and Launches First Ever Genocide-Free Stock Screening Tool