Founder, Domini Social Investments, LLC
"The seeds of Domini Social Investments were sewn by advocacy. It didn’t make sense to me that no one believed socially responsible investing could make money. Why would avoiding trouble be a dangerous decision? The creation of a comparison benchmark of my own—a Standard & Poor’s 500 for the responsible investor—seemed necessary. Entrepreneurialism was a means by which I could do something to save the planet and its people. Domini Social Investments, LLC came into being so that I could pull together thousands of individuals into a single voice, a voice for justice. Fortunately, my alternative benchmark made me famous enough to do that.
I don’t think I realized just how heady a rush awaited me. Mine is the best business life imaginable. Through simply using investments to give voice to the voiceless, I am able to point to successes I never might have imagined when I launched. Because my kind of investing—ethical investing—wants full cost accounting from companies, we ask non-traditional questions of them. We ask what is their diversity profile, what is their policy on waste reduction, how they source their raw materials. The result: 6,000 big companies a year are publishing a corporate social responsibility report. It is Step One towards full cost accounting.
Because my kind of investing wants companies to do what they can to protect universal human dignity, we ask. We ask why they source pig iron from slavery camps in Brazil, and we get them to change, to provide security and benefits to the work forces that their suppliers employ. We ask them to purchase fair trade, and they do; we ask them to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in their own internal documents, and they do. Because my kind of investing wants a healthy planet, we ask our companies to help. We ask them to swear not to use timber from old growth forests, and they do. We ask them to reduce their carbon footprints, and they do. We ask them to report on their initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle each year, and they do.
I wanted to be able to do these things, and I realized that a mutual fund could provide me with the means. Millions of idealistic individuals work hard to bring their values into everything they do. These engaged idealists seek out my funds. They know that no single approach works, so they do it all. They shop responsibly; they have jobs in caring professions; they are responsible citizens and they invest responsibly."