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You're likely aware of how specific investments in your portfolio relate to your overall financial goals.  But did you know that your investments can also reflect your personal values?

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing - also referred to as sustainable investing - allows you to tailor your investments to issues that matter to you most.  Going beyond socially responsible investing (SRI), ESG investing incorporates a set of standards, aligning a company's operations and strategy with principles related to environmental responsibility, social concerns, and corporate governance.

Making your money make a difference

The idea grew out of a growing awareness of pursuing financial goals while promoting societal well-being.  By choosing an ESG/sustainable investment vehicle, you can select companies whose concerns tend to match the issues you care about and avoid companies that operate contrary to your values.

For example, you might choose to invest in companies that promote the:


  • Energy efficiency
  • Waste management
  • Air and water pollution
  • Water scarcity                                                                                                                                                                                  


  • Human rights
  • Labor standards
  • Employee engagement
  • Community relations
  • Customer satisfaction                                                                                    


  • Board composition
  • Executive compensation
  • Lobbying activities
  • Audit committee structure
  • Corruption policies

ESG / sustainable features

ESG investing's most compelling feature is obvious: the ability to put your money to work in support of goals that may also result in personal financial gain.  Shareholders of sustainable investments can use their ownership rights to communicate with corporate management - through proposals, meetings, and proxy voting - in an effort to influence policies and decisions.  Through this type of pooled activism, sustainable portfolios allow single investors to exert more influence than they typically would have by selecting individual securities.

ESG investing involves the exclusion of certain securities for nonfinancial reasons.  This may result in the investor forgoing some market opportunities that may have been available to those not subject to such criteria.  There is no guarantee that any investment goal will be met.