Elevating the Role of Divestment in Socially Responsible Investing

Journal of Business Ethics 153 (2):465-478 (2018)
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The divest movement has focused attention on strategic and ethical differences in the practice of socially responsible investing and highlighted an unnecessary bifurcation of best-of-class engagement and divestment. Although best-of-class engagement is favored as a contemporary and pragmatic approach, this paper calls for a more pronounced recognition of absolute dealbreakers and divestment as an underpinning for best-of-class engagement. After linking divestment and best-of-class engagement to their foundations of absolutism and relativism, respectively, I critique best-of-class engagement and argue that without a distinct and explicit role for divestment, best-of-class strategies are ethically and strategically fraught. Following a discussion of which types of issues suggest divestment or best-of-class engagement, I identify the Norway Government Pension Fund as a noteworthy example, and posit that divestment and engagement are best presented and employed in tandem, particularly for issues that have yet to be addressed by law and convention.



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Cedric Dawkins
Dalhousie University

References found in this work

Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Ethical Theory and Business.Tom L. Beauchamp, Norman E. Bowie & Denis Gordon Arnold (eds.) - 2008 - New York: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
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Morality, normativity, and society.David Copp - 1995 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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