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Ethical Investing: Overview and How To Do It


Ethical Investing, also known as Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) or ESG Investing, means choosing investments based on ethical, social, or environmental considerations alongside financial returns. It involves investing in companies that align with the investor’s personal values and ethical beliefs, often excluding certain industries such as tobacco, arms, or fossil fuels. This can be done through screening processes, mutual funds focused on ethical investing, or green bonds.


In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the pronunciation would be as follows:Ethical Investing: /ˈɛθɪkəl ɪnˈvɛstɪŋ/Overview: /ˌoʊvərˈvjuː/And: /ænd/How: /haʊ/To: /tu/Do: /du/It: /ɪt/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Definition and Importance: Ethical investing, also known as socially responsible or sustainable investing, involves choosing investments based on ethical, social, and environmental principles. It aligns one’s investment choices with personal values and societal impact. A distinct characteristic of ethical investing is the consideration of both financial return and social/environmental good.
  2. How to Do It: The first step in ethical investing is identifying personal values and causes that matter to the investor. Then research firms and funds that align with these values, using resources like ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) ratings. Investors can choose to directly invest in socially responsible companies or through ethical mutual funds or ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).
  3. Various Approaches: There are different strategies in ethical investing, such as ESG Integration, Negative/Exclusionary Screening, Positive/Best-in-Class Screening, Impact Investing, and Sustainable Themed Investing. It is important to understand these approaches to select an approach that best aligns with personal values and investment goals.

“`Each of these points are a simplified overview and diving deeper into each can provide more detailed understanding.


Ethical investing, also known as socially responsible investing, is a critical approach in the modern financial world as it combines investors’ financial goals with their ethical or moral values. The importance lies in its potential to generate competitive returns while making positive societal impacts. It involves investing in companies that adhere to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles, such as reducing carbon footprint, promoting fair labor practices, or having an ethical organizational structure. Ethical investing directs capital towards businesses making a positive change, fostering a culture of corporate social responsibility. It aids in fighting against pressing global issues like climate change and social inequality while providing financial growth for individuals and institutions. Hence, understanding its overview and learning how to do it has become crucial for conscious investors.


Ethical investing, also known as socially responsible investing or sustainable investing, is a strategy primarily used for promoting corporate behavior aligning with investors’ ethical and social values. The purpose of ethical investing is to generate financial returns while simultaneously causing positive social impact. Investors supporting this idea deliberately invest in companies or funds that they believe contribute to the welfare of society, which can include a wide spectrum from those not involved in harmful practices or those actively promoting positive change in areas such as environmental sustainability, human rights, or diversity.The process of ethical investing typically involves screening potential investments for specific ethical guidelines. These can be positive screens where investors seek firms engaging in sustainable environmental practices or contributing to the community. On the other hand, negative screens are employed to exclude companies involved in undesirable activities such as producing tobacco, firearms, or those with poor workplace practices. Additionally, some investors practice shareholder activism as a part of ethical investing, using their ownership rights to influence corporate behavior. Ethical investing serves as a means for individuals to align their investment portfolios with their personal values and contribute towards larger societal goals simultaneously.


1. CALVERT IMPACT CAPITAL: Calvert is a notable company that practices ethical investing. The firm has a dedicated team that researches environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues associated with potential investments. They make it their mission not only to maximize financial returns for their investors, but also to support companies that contribute positively to society. They offer a wide range of funds that focuses on sustainable and responsible investments, including areas like climate change, clean technology, and income inequality.2. PARNASSUS INVESTMENTS: Parnassus Investments is another prominent name in the world of ethical investing. Instead of supporting businesses that harm the environment or engage in dubious practices, Parnassus focuses on companies that follow sustainable practices and treat their employees well. They have strict criteria for their investments including a company’s environmental impact, social responsibility, and governance practices.3. KIVA: Kiva operates on a microfinance model. Through this platform, people can make small loans to entrepreneurs in low-income countries to help them start businesses or make improvements to their existing ones. This approach acknowledges that traditional financial institutions may not always make loans available to such entrepreneurs and helps investors contribute directly to reducing global poverty. While Kiva isn’t a traditional investment platform (as you’re making a loan, not buying equity), it’s a clear example of how money can be used ethically to generate positive social impact.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Ethical Investing?

Ethical investing, also known as socially responsible investing, refers to the practice of investing funds in companies and projects that align with the investor’s personal values or societal objectives. It involves considering both financial returns and ethical concerns.

Why is Ethical Investing important?

Ethical Investing is significant because it allows individuals to support companies and sectors that engage in practices in line with their values, whether these values relate to environmental sustainability, social justice, human rights, or other ethical principles.

Is Ethical Investing profitable?

Yes, Ethical Investing can be profitable. While the returns depend on the specific investments and market conditions, many ethically operated companies have demonstrated strong financial performance. The key, as with any investing strategy, is to research thoroughly and diversify the investment portfolio.

How can I start Ethical Investing?

You can start Ethical Investing by defining your ethical criteria, researching companies or funds that match your criteria, and then investing through your broker or investment platform. It may also be beneficial to consult with a financial advisor who is knowledgeable about socially responsible investing.

What are some examples of causes supported by Ethical Investors?

Some Ethical Investors support companies that prioritize renewable energy, promote gender and racial equality, provide fair wages to employees, engage in fair trade practices, or avoid harmful products and practices, such as tobacco production or harming natural resources.

Are there any tools or resources available to assist in Ethical Investing?

Yes, there are various tools and resources available. Many investment platforms and financial advisors provide options for socially responsible investing, and organizations like the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment and Morningstar offer resources, databases, and ratings to assist investors.

Is Ethical Investing the same as ESG Investing?

They are similar, but not exactly the same. ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investing is a specific type of ethical investing. ESG refers to three central factors in measuring the sustainability and societal impact of an investment in a company or business.

Can a company claim to be ethical without truly being ethically operated?

Yes, a phenomenon known as greenwashing exists where companies might declare themselves as environmentally friendly or ethical without substantive action to support these claims. Therefore, investors should conduct their in-depth research to confirm a company’s ethical claims.

Do I need a substantial amount to begin Ethical Investing?

No, you do not necessarily need a substantial amount. Ethical investing can be done with small amounts as well, and you can gradually increase your investments over time. Several mutual funds and ETFs focus on socially responsible investments that allow investing with lower initial minimums.

Can I withdraw my investments if a company no longer aligns with my ethical standards?

Yes, just like any traditional investment, you can sell your holdings if a company no longer aligns with your ethical criteria or investment goals. Regular monitoring needs to be part of your investment strategy.

Related Finance Terms

  • Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria: Standards set that a company operates within regarding sustainability, social responsibility, and corporate governance.
  • Socially Responsible Investing (SRI): An investment strategy where money is invested in companies that align with the individual’s personal, ethical, and moral beliefs.
  • Impact Investing: Investments specifically made in companies, organizations, and funds with the intent to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): A self-imposed business model where companies balance profit-making with activities that benefit society as a whole.
  • Green Bonds: Bonds issued by governments or companies to raise money for environment-friendly projects or initiatives.

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