You are hereBasics of Responsible Investing: ESG Data: Social Justice

Basics of Responsible Investing: ESG Data: Social Justice


Social, or social justice, concerns cover the way businesses and the economic system affect people and cultures. Not only concerned with human rights, social justice extends to the need for economic equality, in access and in standing, to exist for all people. Surely, the increasing divergence between the rich and the poor is an obvious issue, yet it runs far deeper to the power capital has over individuals.

One of the main historical roots of Responsible Investing can be found in the divestment movement over South African Apartheid in the 1980s, where organizations (lead by college students and university administrations) and individuals divested themselves of South African holdings (screened-out) because of the social injustice and human rights abuse in that country's policies and actions.

Currently, predatory lending is in the news where companies make loans and issued credit cards with abusive terms to people who are not capable of paying. Such programs are marketed to the economically disadvantaged, they include terms that are inflated beyond industry standards, and are part of an unregulated market system in the creation and packaging of these loans and their derivatives. All of these have social justice implications. Look harder, maybe there are other issues, too! Any company operating in this problematic mode of the lending industry is working against social justice.

Sweatshop labor is another social justice and human rights issue which is especially important to a consumer economy such as the U.S. and Europe and China. Besides the material impact on the earth's environment, such producers of goods, and increasingly services, are pressured to lower wages as much as possible. At some magical point the wage becomes abusive because it requires unreasonable effort which approaches indentured servitude or slavery. Most often economic forces at low income levels reduce options regarding seeking other work. Companies are at an advantage when dealing with labor, some companies act unfairly or unethically.

Social Justice is a broad area with many facets. As more information emerges on how we are all interconnected, the errors of inequality are shown in stark relief to the bountiful economy SOME of us have access to.