01 June 2008

How to Choose an Ethical Investment

Socially Responsible Investing is all about investing your hard earned money so that it earns a positive social and financial return.

There is a dizzying array of investment options out there so it goes without saying that investing with your values can take a bit of research. The good thing is that these days there are more and more ethical options to choose from when it comes to managed funds and more Investment Advisers are clued up on the idea of ethical investing.

All the same, it pays to do your own research and preparation. After all, you want to be investing with your values not with someone elses!!

Firstly you need to decide on the type of companies whose activities you consider unethical. As a general guidline this would be:
  • companies whose operations cause disease or death
  • companies that make their profits by destroying or damaging the environment
  • companies that treat honest people with disregard and disrespect

Once you've ruled out companies that fit those criteria, you need to decide on activities you do want to support with your investment. When doing this you should focus on the company's products and/or services. Any company can give a percentage of its profits to a worthy cause, that doesn't make it ethical!

If caring for the Environment is of real significance to you, than perhaps you would want to look for companies that make a sincere effort to keep their environmental impact to a minimum, Or it may be more important to you that the business you invest in treats it employees with respect by paying fair wages or being family friendly.

As well as simply screening for companies that fit your values, you might also like to consider Shareholder Activism as a means of effecting change. As an investor in a business you are also an owner of the business. So why not try and effect change from within. For example, if you find a business that makes a worthwhile product but has a lousy environmental record, you could get together with other shareholders and lobby for change.

In this age of Global Capitalism, corporations have a huge influence on our quality of life and increasingly have more power than Governments to make real change. So it really does make sense to think hard about where you invest your money if you wish to make a positive difference to the world

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