Friday, March 2, 2007

Socially Responsible Investing a la Rambam

Maimonides constructed a scale of charitable giving that is still widely regarded, from the most grudging to the most effective and open-hearted. Those of you who went to Hebrew school may recall his image from your blue notebooks with black print.
A younger friend has asked me to get together to talk about Socially Responsible Investing, and I am delighted as well as challenged to do so.
Here is a stab at a SRI scale. Perhaps someone out in Blogosphere knows if this has been done and can share a link.
From bottom to top:

  1. Benefiting from socially destructive, illegal activities: directly profiting from nasty stuff like prostitution, drug running, war-profiteering etc. Hopefully you cannot buy stock in such enterprises.
  2. Benefiting from socially irresponsible, legal activities such as tobacco, alcohol, ammunitions etc. which also oppress workers, pollute, and generally have harmful side-effects to their activities. There is just such a fund, VICEX.
  3. Investing in socially irresponsible products which are manufactured with good environmental and labor policies. Think a handgun factory with unionized workers, carpools, and advancement opportunities for women and minorities?
  4. Investing in socially responsible products with bad work conditions, like eco-efficiency product manufactured in Chinese pollution-spewing sweatshops....
  5. Investing in benign products which are screened for worker fairness, pollution controls, et al.
  6. Investing in socially beneficial products which are screened for fairness, pollution controls, et al. Maybe you could buy shares in a worker-owned wind farm with a minority female CEO?
  7. Investing directly in socially responsible activities through microfinancing, community investing, etc.
I would love discussion about this. I would guess that for the majority of us, our level is in the 4-5 range. We own lots of mutual funds and don't really pay too much attention - or any attention at all - to anything but their bottom lines.

1 comment:

david santos said...

This work is very good, thank you