Eeach time I’m going to buy some shares, I ask myself a question. Is investing in stocks and companies like Total, Chevron, Unilever, etc. ethical? It’s crystal clear that Chevron and Total are partially destroying our planet, it is very well known, that McDonald’s doesn’t remunerate its own employees in a sufficient way, Nestlé hast the opinion, that access to water should not be a fundamental right of every single human being. Nike, Zara & Co. manufacture its stuff in China, Bangladesh, India or anywhere else in Asia, depending on where costs of production are few cents cheaper. None to say, that women and children are working there for hours under dire conditions and little wage.
Some years ago, I read “Black Book On Brand Companies” — if you want to see it from another point of view, that book is like a handbook for blue-chip investing. Almost every rocksolid company is mentioned there for doing not so good things. Nestlé, Unilever, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Coca Cola, H&M, Zara, Nike, Adidas, Bayer… all of them.
The question I ask myself almost everytime: Is investing in one of these companies a good thing, the rigth thing? Does my 25-shares-investment in Chevron influence anything? Chevron has nearly 2 billion shares outstanding — does my investment matter? Yes, it does. But it’s still capable for me to live with that burden. I also think it makes me a little bit more attentive, meaning I try to be a social and caring guy in general. I try to do “one random act of kindness” every day – be it helping an old woman out of the bus or buying chocolate for my colleagues at work. That’s probably influencing my life and that of the people around me more than not being invested in Chevron.
But I still want to invest based on a kind of “personal investing guideline”. Last year I read something about the Norwegian statens pensjonsfund utland which is the govermental pension fund. It’s one of the biggest investment funds in the world, managing more than € 500 billion. That fund has very strict principles – for example, they avoid to invest in tobacco companies, arms factories, companies which are in violation of human rights and companies causing essential ecological damages. The list of excluded companies also contains very well known enterprises (just a selection):
- Lockheed Martin Corp (21 August 2013)
- Boeing Co. (31 December 2005)
- Altria Group Inc. (31 December 2009)
- British American Tobacco Plc. (31 December 2009)
- Japan Tobacco Inc. (31 December 2009)
- Lorillard Inc. (31 December 2009)
- Philip Morris International Inc. (31 December 2009)
- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (31 May 2006)
- Barrick Gold Corp (30 November 2008)
- Rio Tinto Plc. (30 June 2008)
You can see, they do not really care about market cap, history or dividend yield. I think that investing principles should also apply to my investment guidelines, i.e. I won’t invest in companies, listed in this “black list”.
Below two links with information about the statens pensjonsfond utland: