Risk and Responsibility: Religion and Ethics in Socially Responsible Investment Practices

Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 42 (2):325-343 (2022)
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Socially responsible investment (SRI) has become a major intervention in global investment practices that responds to the power of institutional investors to affect corporate practice. While SRI grew out of the decisions made by churches to curtail investment in so-called “sin stocks” (companies which profited from alcohol, tobacco and gambling), little work has been done to explain why such a dramatic difference in investment strategy would occur or how it ought to impact the investment decisions of individual Christians and their faith communities. This paper explores how social institutions with a religious character determine how to balance the risk of inflicting harm on those institutions with responsibility for transforming the economic order through making investment decisions. Using data collected from shareholder proposals in corporate proxy filings and interviews with investment managers, we develop a typology of theologically grounded approaches to risk and responsibility.



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