Using both positive and negative screens, this is the practice of evaluating investment portfolios or mutual funds based on social, environmental and good corporate governance criteria. Screening may involve including strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) performers, avoiding poor performers, or otherwise incorporating CSR factors into the process of investment analysis and management. Generally, social investors seek to own profitable companies that make positive contributions to society. For example, companies may include those with good employer-employee relations, strong environmental practices, products that are safe and useful, and operations that respect human rights around the world.
Conversely, many social investors avoid investing in companies whose products and business practices are harmful to individuals, communities, or the environment. It is a common mistake to assume that SRI "screening" is simply exclusionary, or only involves negative screens. In reality, SRI screens are being used more and more frequently to invest in companies that are leaders in adopting clean technologies and exceptional social and governance practices.
Shareholder advocacy involves socially responsible investment managers who take an active role through talking, or "dialoguing", with companies on issues of social, environmental or governance concerns. Shareholder advocacy also frequently involves filing shareholder resolutions on such topics as climate change, corporate governance, political contributions, gender/racial discrimination, pollution, problem labor practices and a host of other issues. Shareholder resolutions are then presented for a vote to all owners of a corporation.
The process of dialoguing and filing shareholder resolutions generates investor pressure on company management, often garners media attention, and educates the public on social, environmental and labor issues. Such resolutions filed by SRI investors are aimed at improving company policies and practices, encouraging management to exercise good corporate citizenship and promoting long-term shareholder value and financial performance.
Across America and around the world, many communities lack affordable housing, child care, health care, and jobs that pay a living wage. Putting money into under-served communities is an investment strategy that remedies economic disparity by providing lower-income people access to capital, credit, and training that they otherwise would not have. Community investing, however, is beyond charity and is a sound investment practice. These investments earn competitive returns, like non-community development investments, but also produce a social return that is attractive to investors and helps communities in need.
To learn more about SRI, or if you have specific questions you can contact us directly or attend one of our upcoming presentations.