Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) also known as Sustainable and Responsible Investing is an approach to investing that integrates environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria with financial analysis and decision-making.  Increasingly, this may also be referred to as Impact Investing, where a beneficial social or environmental impact is measured along side a financial return. Socially responsible and impact investing seeks out well-managed, forward-thinking organizations with the thought that they will have better long-term financial prospects.

With trillions in assets in the US today, SRI is catching on with many individual and institutional investors who seek to:

            •  Align their investments with their personal values by avoiding companies that do not meet certain standards.

            •  Encourage improved corporate social and environmental performance through an active investment strategy.

            •  Identify companies with better long-term financial performance through the analysis of social and environmental factors.

SRI was first formally practiced by faith-based investors who, over 100 years ago, avoided companies involved in tobacco, alcohol, and gambling.  More recently, however, SRI has evolved beyond simple avoidance screening to include the following four aspects:


Research & Screening - Examining the social and environmental records of companies to determine which companies to include or exclude in an investment portfolio. Historically, screens were employed to screen out investments that did not meet an investors ethical standards.  Since then, screens have evolved to also seek out investments in companies that are taking progressive steps to address important social and/or environmental issues in the course of working to be a profitable enterprise.


Community Investing - Providing access to capital for individuals and organizations in communities under-served by traditional financial institutions so they can create jobs, build homes, and finance community facilities.  Community investors may accept slightly below-market rates of return to encourage investment that can build or rebuild communities.  Community investors seek social returns in addition to financial returns.


Shareholder Advocacy - Using your position as an owner in a company to actively encourage a company to improve.  Shareholder advocacy can take many forms, from something as simple as a phone call, to writing a letter, to filing a shareholder resolution calling for a company to take a particular action (which can ultimately come to a vote in front of all shareholders).  Advocacy also includes proxy voting, or simply casting your vote as a company shareholder.  


Social Venture Capital - Seeking out early-stage investments in companies that have identified profitable ways to meet societal needs (such as alternative energy companies), before they are publicly traded.  This early stage investing can help these companies secure necessary funding to grow and often leads to healthy returns for shareholders.


The myth that you can’t earn competitive returns through socially responsible investing is just that: a myth.

Mounting research shows that companies that integrate social, environmental and governance concerns into their business practices perform better over the long run.

Copyright ©2017, Natural Investments, LLC.  All rights reserved.  Revised 10/17.

Socially Responsible Investing