Interview with Amy Domini
Investing with a Conscience
by Russell Wasendorf, Sr.
Interview with Amy Domini, Founder and CEO, Domini Social Investments.Read further:
RW: Let’s talk about the way you select investments.
AD: The field grew out of a faith-based approach to investing that held it was immoral to invest in alcohol, tobacco, weapons and gambling. So we embraced these standards. But on the other hand, in today’s context I can still argue that the miracle of capitalism is that it delivers goods and services to more people at a lower price in a more convenient fashion – things that we want and things that we need. The question for me is do we want our weapons, our alcohol, our tobacco and our gambling distributed as broadly and cheaply as possible?
Our fund is underinvested in oil because in this country our choices now are Exxon/Mobil and Chevron/Texaco, and I buy only U.S. companies. When you do an environmental and human rights analysis of on those two companies, you are not going to want to own them. I own other smaller oil companies but it has been tough to be out of oil.
RW: Many people will ask if they should be willing to pay a price in their investment return for social investing. Is it so important that we should be willing to accept a lower return?
AD: That opens the door to why we do the social investing. We need to ask ourselves, is the almighty dollar the only right thing in the world? Or do we want a future that is pleasant, clean and healthy? If we want that future, there is a cost involved. There is a point at which throwing your trash over the fence is cheaper than dealing with it.
RW: How many of the Domini 400 are in the S&P 500?
AD: There are 250, give or take two or three, by policy.
SFO Magazine: Investing with a Conscience