Socially Responsible Investing

Can investors do well by doing good?


Socially responsible investing, which combines financial goals with the aim of improving society through stock screening, shareholder activism and other methods, has grown into a multi-trillion-dollar industry. Concerns about climate change, worker rights and other issues are prompting big institutional accounts as well as small investors to put more and more emphasis on social, environmental and corporate-governance factors in weighing investment decisions. But critics say stock-screening methods used by mutual funds are subjective and that socially responsible investments tend not to perform as well as conventional ones. Some of the harshest criticism has been directed at public pension funds using social-investing approaches, such as the California State Teachers' Retirement System, which uses a "double bottom line" approach to investing.

Investments in tobacco and other sin stocks ...

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