You may want to be socially conscious and do the right thing, both in your own community and in the larger global community. Perhaps you are concerned about environmental issues or about opportunities for fair trade and human rights, or maybe you are passionate about protecting wildlife or promoting healthy diet and exercise for young people. Whatever your area of interest and moral or ethical position, you may want to act in a way that is in accordance with your personal beliefs and convictions. But at the same time, you may be interested in making money in the stock market. Many see this as an irreconcilable conflict, but it doesn’t have to be, thanks to many stock funds that have been created to specifically cater to the needs of people who want to play the market without compromising their own personal values.
Mutual funds are a great way to delve into the socially conscious side of Wall Street. These are not single stocks, but groups of stocks that are managed by trained professionals. When you buy a share in a mutual fund, you are essentially contributing funds to a mutual fund, and then the fund’s manager will use that money to buy stocks that he or she thinks will do well and meet the goals of the mutual fund’s investors. Because these funds value diversity of assets, they are somewhat protected from the risk of only owning shares of an isolated company. And these days there are many mutual fund companies that specialize in socially conscious investing. When you buy into their funds, they promise to use your money only for investment in companies that promote the things you believe in, so you get two benefits.
First, you get the peace of mind of knowing that your stock market investments are for good causes. Secondly, you get to promote your causes and support the companies that share your values, by putting your hard-earned money behind your commitment to those values. You get to own shares in companies that are trying to succeed by doing the kinds of things you want to see done in the world, so you have a chance to reap both financial rewards and personal satisfaction.
You can also buy stocks in individual companies, by doing some background research to find out which ones meet your standards. For example, if you want to help protect the environment from companies that pollute, you could buy stock in companies that make “green” products like alternative fuels that don’t contaminate the atmosphere. Or you can buy stock in companies that clean up oil spills, plant trees, or manufacture biodegradable consumer products.
The idea is that you can have your cake and eat it too. It is possible to make money in the stock market and at the same time remain committed to socially conscious values, by putting your money into the right stocks.