Letter to the editor: Socially responsible investments have paid off

Recently I read a statement by a person who argued that divestment, while morally defensible, was a naive choice for older investors who depended on their investments for living expenses.

So, I’m old and idealistic (some would call that naive). My wife and I invested in Socially Responsible funds through TIAA-CREF 30 years ago, and recently we transferred half of those funds to Greenvest to ensure we’re fossil-free and supporting emerging socially responsible and green technologies. Through the various downturns we were hurt less than my colleagues who remained in traditional funds, in the early 2000s way less, and we recovered more quickly. 

Jared Diamond in his book “Collapse,” asserts that companies that embrace socially and environmentally responsible practices are more likely to thrive and even suffer fewer stock depressing lawsuits over destructive social and environmental practices — think about Union Carbide and Bhopal. 

One other thought — people talk about fiduciary responsibility only in terms of monetary profit and loss, and fail to account for long-term social and environmental impacts that could dwarf the monetary ones. We need to stop focusing on the next quarter and think instead about future generations, our kids and grandkids. That is real fiduciary responsibility.

Richard Butz


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