Most of us would like to live in a world that is peaceful, environmentally sound, and fair to all. Since most people share these ideals, why are we so far from achieving them? We believe one important reason is that, for too long, people have separated their social ideals from their economic decisions. The essence of ethical investing is that it emphatically ties together the social and environmental goals shared by so many with the daily economic decisions that face us all.
In our political system we have the opportunity to vote every two years. In our economic system we vote with our money every day. Our decisions as investors and consumers influence the kinds of products that are produced, the growth of some companies and the decline of others, wage rates, corporate policy toward the environment, and, ultimately, our shared quality of life. So when you choose an investment manager, you are in a sense electing your economic representative. At Prentiss Smith & Company, we take this responsibility seriously. That’s why ethical investing is all we do.
We exclude several industries from investment consideration. Fossil fuels, defense or weapons, retail gun sales, private prisons, gambling, pornography, mining, agrochemicals and tobacco are all ruled out from the start.
Instead, we conduct internal research to identify companies with diverse workforces, with products or goals that can combat climate change or save resources, with strong labor practices and human rights oversight.
When we do invest, our work doesn’t stop there. We use proxy votes to represent client values at corporate annual meetings. We meet with companies to push for improvement on issues such as deforestation or racial justice.
At Prentiss Smith & Company, our goal is to ensure you can pursue your most important financial goals, in alignment with your ethics. But a shared starting point is important. Here are some of our own key ethical investing values. If our values are similar to yours, we would welcome a further conversation.
We believe corporations have a critical role to play in improving our relationship with the earth. Companies should be transparent and ambitious in building a circular economy, conserving water and land.
We believe companies must be attentive not only to their own labor practices, but to those in their supply chains as well. Employees in every part of the world deserve freedom from forced labor and unsafe working conditions.
We like to see corporations giving generously to their communities, with financial support as well as education and training programs. Leadership composition should be structured to reflect company stakeholders. Companies should be transparent and open to change.
Companies can become entrenched in old, familiar patterns. We see greater success coming from those that focus time and resources on diversifying their leadership and workforces, ensuring equal pay, making an effort to identify and use diverse suppliers, and following up to address wrongs both internal and external.
We exclude all fossil fuel companies, and those who serve them, from our client portfolios. But this is not enough. Companies must meet the moment with an honest accounting of emissions and energy use. Corporate leaders must set and meet ambitious targets for reducing emissions. And corporate resources must drive the buildout of a renewable energy grid.
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