As social responsibilities and environmental sustainability become an integral part of society, many companies and organizations establish goals and policies to make a difference.
Banks and financial institutions have increased their involvement in volunteering, charitable contributions, and creating socially responsible investments for their clients.
While many financial institutions and banks increase the availability of socially responsible investment products, the primary goal of many companies is competition with a focus on increasing revenue. In recent years, there’s been a higher demand for SRIs or socially responsible investments.
SRIs were initially developed by filtering out specific industries to create a more socially conscious portfolio. This process began with omitting investments in alcohol, the arms trade, companies that practice unethical labor, and tobacco.
Over the past few decades, the process of creating socially and environmentally responsible mutual funds and other investments has expanded to include criteria such as fair employee compensation, human rights, and sustainable manufacturing.
The results of SRI funds vary from one country to another, though these socially responsible funds have shown consistent growth over the long term in some portfolios. As more industries and companies become transparent about their corporate practices, they continue to improve their policies to reduce carbon footprints, improve working conditions for employees, and implement ethical practices.
This trend incentivizes banks and financial companies to improve their investment options and embrace more SRI options, becoming critical for investors. Therefore, it is essential for the financial sector to continually focus on improving the variety of SRI funds as more corporations and industries embrace greener practices, sustainable energy, and improving conditions on job sites.
In countries with strict investment guidelines, many companies or industries are filtered out of the mutual fund, which could significantly impact growth and fund performance.
As more companies in this sector encourage more ethical investments, there’s a lot of potential for significant growth and profit. SRIs currently show a positive growth trend of 6% annually, on average.
A growing number of banks and financial companies in Europe are embracing green, sustainable investments. One of the top-rated banks is BNP Paribas, which has received awards focusing on ethical, green investment bonds and loans. In addition, this financial company offers insurance, banking, and investment services with socially and environmentally responsible options.
BNP Paribas was established by merging two banks in France, the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) and Paribas. In addition to its solid leadership in green investing, the bank has also been recognized for providing an inclusive work environment and developing competitive, sustainable products and services.
There are other ethical banks and financial institutions in Europe, including Triodos Bank, UmweltBank, and eticaFunds. Triodos Bank is headquartered in the United Kingdom, with locations throughout Europe and internationally. The financial institution’s mission is sustainable banking, to provide transparency and investments that benefit people and the planet.
There are some essential characteristics to look for in an ethical bank or financial institution. Financial companies can contribute to sustainability and ethical practices in various ways, including:
Credit unions are often community-based and support local initiatives that provide local benefits to society. These financial institutions often offer socially responsible investments and products that promote green companies and sustainable industries. In addition, some credit unions finance low-income communities, small local businesses, and special events.
Environmentally friendly banks and inclusive financial companies may include several initiatives and goals, including supporting local farms, an inclusive and diverse workforce, and aligning their services and products with ethical goals and personal values.
There are practical ways to encourage more banks to get involved with ethical practices and socially conscious investing. While many financial companies make significant efforts to contribute to a greener society and socially responsible practices, international banks may consider changing their products and services to align with more accountability.
Discussing and sharing ideas online and on social media can significantly impact a company’s practices. For example, starting an online campaign to promote environmental causes and “tagging” or mentioning specific industries or companies can help increase awareness and pressure banks to contribute to important causes.
Non-profit organizations and community initiatives often contact banks directly and promote their cause and community contributions. This process allows them to gain the attention of local financial companies and international banks through sponsorship programs that offer a banner to promote financial products or services in exchange for funding and support of specific events or campaigns.
While many banks and financial institutions embody socially responsible goals and provide products and services aligned with personal values, further action can be done to increase awareness in the financial sector.
As society demands socially responsible investing in renewable energy systems, companies that support a diverse population and ethical practices will significantly impact how companies offer financial and investment products.
As financial institutions focus on profits and greater returns on investments for clients, socially responsible investing will continue to play an essential role in how people choose where they put their money for interim savings and business. As the demand for SRIs increases, this will affect how banks offer socially and environmentally-conscious products and services in the future.