You Can Invest in Change: Pick an Issue

piggy bank on calculator
Source: iStock

Wondering how you can make a real difference in the world? Move your money. 
People who bank and invest in a socially responsible manner arguably have never been more important to the health of humanity and the Earth. As Donald Trump’s administration doubles down on anti-environment, anti-science, and anti-immigrant policies, it’s clear that Congress and the Supreme Court aren’t able to provide the checks and balances they once did. Enter investors. 

Yes, investors, believe it or not. 

For instance, Trump has denied that the climate crisis is caused by humans, signing an executive order in March dismantling Obama’s Clean Power Plan. In early June, he officially started pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which 195 countries are supporting. Meanwhile, Apple, Amazon, Walmart,  and several other companies pledged to stick by their Obama-era promises to meet Paris Agreement emissions targets—despite Trump. And 12 states and Puerto Rico have formed the US Climate Alliance to negotiate with the United Nations to have their climate-reduction pledges counted as American participation in the Paris climate deal. As of June 14, ten more states and hundreds of US cities had pledged support for the Paris Agreement as well. 

“Strong clean energy and climate policies ... can make renewable energy supplies more robust and address the serious threat of climate change while also supporting American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth,” Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon said in a joint statement to Bloomberg. 
Why would these companies and leaders stand for the environment in spite of getting carte blanche to pollute from the Trump administration? In part because their customers have demanded they do so. And their shareholders have the loudest voices of all. 

While the administration—particularly vice-president Mike Pence—hints it may try to roll back LGBTQ legal rights, some corporations are fine-tuning LGBTQ anti-discrimination policies. Many of these policies have been in place for years, and the credit for them lies largely with concerned shareholders who put pressure on companies to do the right thing.

And when Trump signed an executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim countries, 127 companies filed an amicus brief in support of a federal court challenge to the ban. (Green America’s Green Business Network® members also signed a statement against the ban.) Why? They knew their customers and shareholders—the latter of whom have been pushing for greater board and management diversity and anti-discrimination policies for decades—wouldn’t want them to be silent. 
You don’t have to be rich to be a social investor. All you need is the will to use your money to support your values—and the kind of world you want to see for the future. In spite of Washington.   

Pick an issue:

Climate Change:

As the Trump administration pulls the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, investors are pressuring companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy. They’re also reinvesting that money in green energy and energy-efficiency technologies.  

The Environment:  

While Trump puts people with ties to the fossil-fuel industry in charge of the EPA and rolls back environmental protections, shareholders and people with bank accounts  are pressing companies to do better for the planet —and moving their money into companies that go the extra mile to care for the Earth. 

LGBTQ Rights:  

Many Fortune 500 companies have LGBTQ policies in place, thanks to investor pressure. Investors are still working on laggards to improve—and they’re taking on entire states with discriminatory laws.

Indigenous Rights:  

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and its encroachment on the lands and rights of the Standing Rock Sioux galvanized a new crop of shareholder activists, fossil-fuel divestors, and people willing to break up with their mega-banks—and move their money into community investing banks and credit unions.


Too many white men in the White House? Definitely. And while we can’t do much about it until the next election, we can push Corporate America to put more women and people of color on boards and in upper management—and invest in companies with a commitment to fostering diversity.

The Border Wall, Prisons, And More: 

The fossil-fuel divestment movement is sending a message to the market that oil and gas aren’t sustainable—financially or environmentally. Divestment is also being used to pull assets out of companies tied to Trump’s border wall between the US and Mexico, and out of private prison companies, letting both groups know that our money won’t fund these harmful efforts.