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Many investors seek ways to invest their money without sacrificing their
values. This is especially true for religious and charitable organizations that
seek competitive rates of return from investments consistent with their ethical
or moral principles. We call this social justice based on Unitarian Universalist (UU) Values.
The investment world has changed dramatically in the past twenty years, and
it is now easier for individuals and organizations to invest in ways that do not
violate their integrity while receiving a good return. Some mutual funds and
money management firms offer professional investment services that earn market
rates of return while pursuing social as well as financial objectives.
Negative Screening is the term applied to the strategy of avoiding stock ownership
in corporations that make harmful products (e.g. tobacco, weapons) or that have
patterns of egregious behavior (e.g. “sweatshop” suppliers, excessive
pollution). This form of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) first became widespread when many investors
boycotted companies doing business in South Africa
before the dismantling of apartheid, and it is still important today.
Positive Screening is the practice of
proactively investing in firms known for corporate responsibility or positive
contributions to society or the environment. Examples are companies that have
progressive policies on equal opportunity, affirmative action, employee
ownership, or that have adopted beneficial environmental standards.
Shareholder Advocacy seeks to change
corporate behavior through proposing and representing resolutions at annual
stockholder meetings. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) works together with other religious organizations
through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
to influence corporate behavior in this manner. Recent
shareholder advocacy has focused on excesses in corporate pay, global warming,
and sexual orientation discrimination.
Proxy Voting is an important force for moderating the excesses of capitalism. Each
year, companies ask the guidance of shareholders on governance issues such as
selection of auditors, board structure, share issuance, etc. Shareholder
sponsored resolutions also appear on annual proxy ballots. The UUA uses a proxy
voting service, called Institutional Shareholder Services, which votes our shares by proxy according to
our strict SRI criteria.
can designate part of their portfolio for credit unions, non-profit banks, or
funds that make loans to enterprises in low-income communities. Such programs
provide capital and technical expertise to communities that are often
under-served by traditional lenders. Affordable housing and minority-owned
businesses are often goals of community investing. UUA offers a Matching Program for Community Development
Investment (Word) (PDF).
For more information contact responsibleinvesting @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Thursday, March 7, 2013.
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