Friends’ History of Investing with Integrity

Friends groups have a long and proud tradition of ethical investing. As Friends, we have consistently sought congruity of our principles when we consider what types of investments we should hold. We understand that how we use our money and what we choose to own is always a moral choice.

Friends’ financial decisions are rooted in our testimonies.  Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice provides one example of this.  

Stewardship of Economic Resources

All that we have, in ourselves and our possessions, are gifts from God, entrusted to us for our responsible use. Jesus reminds us that we must not lay up earthly treasures for ourselves, for where our treasures are, there will be our hearts also. We cannot serve both God and Mammon.

Stewardship is a coming together of our major testimonies. To be good stewards in God’s world calls on us to examine and consider the ways in which our testimonies for peace, equality, and simplicity interact to guide our relationships with all life.

O that we who declare against wars, and acknowledge out trust to be in God only, may walk in the light, and thereby examine our foundation and motives in holding great estates! May we look upon our treasures, the furniture in our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions. --John Woolman, c.1770

In a world of economic interactions far more complex than John Woolman could have imagined, Friends need to examine their decisions about obtaining, holding, and using money and other assets, to see whether they find in them the seeds, not only of war, but also of self-indulgence, injustice, and ecological disaster. Good stewardship of economic resources consists both in avoidance of those evils and in actions that advance peace, simple living, justice, and a healthy ecosystem. Good stewardship also requires attention to the economic needs of Quaker and other organizations that advance Friends’ testimonies.  --Faith and Practice, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting p.80

Screens for Integrity in Investing

Our testimonies have led Friends to develop guidelines or “screens”  based on the moral concerns of each historical era. Friends Fiduciary Corporation and individual Friends participated in the divestment movement in the 1970s directed at resisting South Africa’s policy of apartheid. Friends Fiduciary Corporation (http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/) and many other Friends Meetings and organizations currently have screens against (and have divested from) companies whose products or business practices are incompatible with our testimonies.

Screens based on the Peace testimony exclude companies that produce weapons or weapon components or are military in nature.  Examples of stocks rejected by Friends Fiduciary since 2011 for military involvement include Motorola, IPG Photonics, SAIC, Kia Motors, Hewlett Packard, Caterpillar and PerkinElmer. 

The testimony of Equality has led most Friends’ institutions to screen out for-profit prisons.

The testimony of Stewardship of Economic Resources led to the screening out of alcohol, tobacco and gambling.

The testimony of Environmental Stewardship has led Friends Fiduciary Corporation, as an example, to divest from such companies as Halliburton, Ameren, National Fuel and Gas Co., and most recently all coal companies and utilities that rely primarily on coal.