Many investors like the idea of compounding returns because it allows them to build wealth over time. However, for some, investing isn’t just about making money. Some investors want to make sure their dollars are going toward companies and funds that match their values.
Throughout 2020, one of the biggest issues has been trying to create an environment of anti-racism. For investors hoping to promote a better approach to racial justice, investing in anti-racist companies is an important part of building a portfolio.
If you’re interested in putting your investment dollars where your values are, here are some things to think about as you look to invest in companies focused on anti-racism and combating racial injustice.
Public Companies Committed to Anti-Racism
According to Kevin Matthews, a former financial advisor and founder of investing education website Building Bread, it’s unfortunately hard to find companies actually doing the work of anti-racism. Socially responsible investing has been around for a while, but not all of that has been focused on active anti-racist practices.
“There are some high-profile companies right now that are making commitments to Black and Brown communities,” Matthews told The Balance via phone. “Netflix is one example of a company that has announced its own investment of millions of dollars to banks and businesses that focus on Black and Brown communities.”
Companies have also taken anti-racism pledges and promised to improve their efforts.
The Aspen Institute tracks companies that are committed to anti-racist policies and efforts at greater inclusion, as well as promises to donate to organizations that fight racism.
Other companies that have made efforts include:
However, just looking at recent promises might not be enough, according to Michelle Jackson, a business owner and founder of the podcast “Michelle is Money Hungry.”
“A lot of businesses are jumping on the bandwagon right now because anti-racism is hot,” Jackson told The Balance via phone. “Take a look at businesses that had anti-racism policies and practices in place before [summer 2020]. Did they have to bend over backward to make sure these things exist?”
For example, in the past, Starbucks has experienced incidents where employees acted in racist ways, Jackson pointed out, but the company was quick to address the issues in the news by shutting down locations so they could have anti-bias and inclusion training. It’s not perfect, but the company did respond quickly.
Ways to Invest Your Money
One of the easiest ways to get involved with investing in anti-racist companies is to look for mutual funds and ETFs.
“The NAACP ETF is an example of a fund that includes metrics designed to measure their level of diversity and inclusion,” Matthews said. “They look at the numbers of people of color that are executives as well as employees and measure items like pay equity.”
Additionally, you can use The Diversity Fund as a way to screen different investments that can focus on inclusion efforts.
The Diversity Fund doesn’t just focus on anti-racism. It also looks at disabilities, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and other typically marginalized communities.
Matthews also suggested looking at various funds that promote anti-racism investing and checking to see what their scores and records are, and potentially picking individual stocks that have higher scores if you’re not comfortable investing in the fund.
“These funds are far from perfect,” Matthews said. “Some of the companies included might not meet your own personal threshold of anti-racist investing. That’s something you have to figure out on your own.”
Once you know what companies you want to invest in, you can look up the ticker symbol of the fund or individual stock and buy shares using most traditional and online brokers. Some robo advisors, like Betterment, offer socially responsible portfolios, too.
Matthews warned that some of these offerings focus more on environmental issues than anti-racism. There’s nothing wrong with that, he said, but if you’re specifically looking to invest in companies that fight racism, these pre-made portfolios might not meet your preferences.
Invest Your Dollars Locally
While Jackson has her share of stocks and funds in a portfolio, she sees investing in anti-racist companies as more than just something you do on a national, large scale basis.
“While it might not be buying stock, investing in local businesses is its own investment in your community and the kind of place you want to live,” Jackson said. “The dollar you spend in your community stays in the local economy and has an impact that goes beyond just money.”
Jackson suggested taking a look around at the businesses in your area, and seeking out Black- and Brown-owned businesses that provide you with what you need. She also recommended sharing them on social media and finding additional ways to support them. You might have Starbucks in your portfolio, but when you need a place to drink coffee and work, Jackson suggested to frequent your local Black-owned coffee shop instead.
The Bottom Line
In the end, investing in anti-racist companies may be difficult, but it is another way to combat racial injustice. Until recently, not many companies were committed to the work of anti-racism, and both Matthews and Jackson remain skeptical of real change in large corporations.
However, if you want to start making progress, you can identify companies that are at least making changes now and add them (or the funds they’re included in) to your investment portfolio. As more people make it a point to consider anti-racism in their investing, more companies are likely to adopt more inclusive policies and practices.