Putting Money Where Your Values Are
Ever thought about investing? Putting away a few of those hard-earned dollars for a rainy day? Maybe you already have. Either way, did you know there’s a way to align those investments with your Judaism?
Since the 1800s, leaders of American Christian organizations have instructed their congregations to only spend their money with businesses that aligned with their values. This meant not purchasing at stores that sold alcohol or any business that used slave labor. For wealthier individuals, this translated into not investing in enterprises that didn’t align with their Christian values. Today, this practice of value-based investing has expanded into an entire subsection of the financial services industry known as “ESG investing.”
ESG stands for “environmental, social, and governance.” The goal is to shift your investments to companies that protect the environment, take care of their workers, and make an effort to ensure their staff includes people from different backgrounds. However, given that every company has a different level of impact in each of these categories, sometimes one category becomes more important than the other. For instance, looking at the environmental impact of a technology company versus a fashion company will ultimately produce different conclusions. Moreover, since it’s your investment, you get to decide what is most important to you when you’re investing in a company. For example, you could vet the company to ensure they have a zero tolerance policy against antisemitism.
Value-based investing (which includes applying ESG criteria) doesn’t necessarily have to only be for making large investments. You can do this with your everyday shopping. Beyond seeing if the company has an antisemitic past, you can choose to spend your money at stores that are Jewish owned. In a broader sense, you can stick with the Jewish value of tikkun olam and only invest in companies that have a plan to give back to their local communities. Whatever your values are, there’s always a way to align your investments to them. Just think how much impact you can have if you support companies that try to build up the world instead of tearing it down.
Shushu Crevoshay (JP ’23)