Activity 3: Socially Responsible Investing
Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Handout 2, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
- Handout 3, Ten Things All UUs Should Know about Socially Responsible Investing
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Paper and pens
- Optional: A computer with a projection screen, digital projector, and speakers or a large monitor
Preparation for Activity
- Preview Handouts 2 and 3. Copy both for all participants.
- Ask members of the congregational finance committee, investment committee, or governing board and/or other appropriate leaders about the congregation’s investment policies. Ask whether Socially Responsible Investing is a guiding philosophy. Be prepared to share what you learn with the group.
- View the website of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. If possible, prepare to project and share the website with participants.
Description of Activity
Socially Responsible Investing, or SRI, is one way some UU congregations, groups, and individuals bring spiritual and religious values into investment. SRI pays attention to the idea that investment is fundamentally a relationship between the one providing capital through investment and the one creating something of value. A socially responsible approach to investing requires an investor to make determinations about value beyond financial return and to act on those decisions. In effect, there is a double bottom line, where both financial performance and social effects are important, often supporting one another.
Explain that your purpose in this activity is to unpack SRI so that participants can explore if and how it might be part of personal and/or congregational financial practices. This workshop is not the place to debate SRI in congregational investment policies. Suggest appropriate congregational leaders with whom interested participants might study and discuss the issues in more depth after the workshop.
Distribute Handout 2, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and Handout 3, Ten Things All UUs Should Know about Socially Responsible Investing. Invite participants to read the handouts. Ask if participants have any knowledge or experience with SRI. Invite them to briefly share their experiences.
Lead a discussion using these questions:
- Why is financial performance an important consideration in Socially Responsible Investing?
- Is it moral to maximize financial returns while still paying attention to social justice issues (the double bottom line)? What do your religious and faith commitments tell you about this?
- Is it possible to separate Socially Responsible Investing from other kinds? Is there a way that social considerations are really an inseparable part of making any good investment?
- How do the values and strategies of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility articulated in Handout 2 and the principles of SRI in Handout 3 refute the commonly held belief that financial performance and social responsibility are in opposition?