L2L Weekender: Leading Socially Responsible Investing

Is Socially Responsible Investing A Realistic Strategy To Follow?

Is your leadership going above and beyond what you do as a boss? Are you thinking beyond your day job or your specific corporate role and looking into how your decisions affect a bigger picture?

And are you considering how your influence on a personal level can impact local, regional, national, or international concerns that can benefit society as a whole?

To be sure, anyone in a position of leadership has learned specific skills that are felt in the immediate realm. The question becomes can you lead in a different way that utilizes your skills and helps promote wise investments in a much longer-term way?

Investing Your Influence

If you have been recently surfing the web and browsing through sites such as the ones owned by Fisher Investments and other companies in search of investment information, you may have come across a term that baffled you.

While sources, such as the Fisher site, may contain a capsule definition of the term “Socially Responsible Investing,” you may still be wondering what this term actually amounts to in practice.

You may also be wondering if such a strategy is even possible to adopt, or if it is the right one for you to employ in the course of your own investment activity.

What Is Meant By “Socially Responsible Investing?”

A concise definition of “Socially Responsible Investing” might run as follows: Investment activity by people who wish to support or reward companies for engaging in activity that they feel is beneficial to the international community.

For example, a person who follows the Socially Responsible Investing strategy might choose to invest in companies whose activities coincide with their own deeply held political, economic, or ecological beliefs.

They may make use of the technique of shareholder advocacy. This is the technique by which they use their power as a shareholder to influence the policies of the company they invest in.

For example, they may use this technique to influence the company into adopting better safety standards, abandoning dangerous industrial practices, or giving better pay and representation to female or minority employees.

A Practical Use Of Socially Responsible Investing Techniques

People who make practical use of their socially responsible investing principles tend to screen the companies they are willing to invest in according to three general principles.

The first principle is known as the “Negative Screen.”

The negative screen basically boils down to a practical refusal to invest in any company that sells products or engages in activities that the investor personally views as harmful or immoral.

This could translate into a refusal to invest in a tobacco company, or an oil company that is prone to oil spills and other activities that affect the environment in a negative way.

What Is The “Positive Screen” Technique?

The “Positive Screen” technique involves the investor giving their support to a company that they feel not only earns its profits in an ethical manner, but also uses these profits to support causes that the investor also approves of.

This could mean anything from a company that supports wildlife conservation to a business that engages directly in the construction and distribution of environmentally friendly solar panels.

Keep in mind that the definition of “Positive” is a highly subjective one, and will differ greatly depending on the mindset of the person who makes use of such criteria.

What Is The “Restricted Screen” Technique?

The final screening technique is usually known as the “Restricted Screen.” This means that the company in question may engage in activities that the investor may highly approve of, but may also be involved in other activities which raise a red flag of caution in their mind.

The dilemma is normally resolved when the investor weighs the effects of the company’s “positive” activity against the “negative,” and makes up their own mind whether to go ahead and invest in this company or not.

Leading Outside of Self

When a leader takes on a much larger role in which to influence decisions and uses those skills to better society, they are able to create a legacy that goes beyond their corporate role or day job.

Investing in areas that bring about a better planet is a great way to be able to look into the mirror and feel confidence and maturity about using your skills and talents toward something big.

So how are you doing in developing your personal professional skills in your career? And better yet, how can you take those skills and make a personal commitment to use those skills and talents to leave a large footprint on your leadership legacy? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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