My journey into ethical living came by way of fashion, more specifically, when I stepped foot in an offshore garment factory and had the profound realisation that I had been buying clothes without considering the people who had made them or the impact its manufacture had on the planet.
That fateful experience nearly 11 years ago served as the catalyst for my lifestyle overhaul. I became determined to be a lean, green, ethical advocacy machine.
From fashion to food, I began dissecting my shopping habits and consumer choices, and where I found an ethical problem, I committed to finding a solution. I started researching company ethics and production practices, composting food scraps, carrying my reusables and have even gone so far as to purchase a farm property and have it certified organic.
But it didn’t occur to me until many years later when researching superannuation funds for my business and its employees, that my super fund was quietly undermining all of my hard work. I was ‘being the change’ and trying my best to lead by positive example, and there my money was, in my super fund, likely being invested in companies implicated in human rights abuses as well as those contributing to climate change such as coal and oil.
My money was making me look like a hypocrite.
Not long after, I switched my super to an ethical fund; I wanted my money aligned with my values. I chose ethical super fund, Australian Ethical, as I had confidence in the company based on the research I had done.
I made that ethical switch back in 2016 and I’m happy to say that my money has been helping to build a more ethical and sustainable world ever since (and the returns are pretty good too!).
Here’s how Australian Ethical contributes to making a positive difference:
Clean Energy Future
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” –Socrates
The private sector usually steps in where governments are slow to act, and that’s true in the land down under, and especially true on the topic of climate change.
Thankfully, companies like Australian Ethical are fast-tracking the country’s transition to a low-carbon, clean energy future by investing in renewables such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal, efficient transport and projects focussed on energy efficiency.
With IPCC reports and countless other scientific journals revealing the severity of the climate crisis and cities worldwide declaring climate emergencies, Australian Ethical–with my money and that of 41,000 other members– are playing a critical role in helping to keep global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In fact, as one of Australia’s ethical finance pioneers (founded in 1986), Australian Ethical have been helping to build a sustainable future long before it became ‘cool to care’.
Like many others holding a socially progressive worldview, I want my hard-earned money going to companies that support people, families and communities– not in companies that seek to destroy them. Thus investments in militarism and weapons manufacture, gambling, those involved in the poor treatment of asylum seekers, or companies that exploit workers or make harmful products are absolutely out of the question.
Australian Ethical shares the same values as I and screens all these ethically questionable businesses out. This gives me peace of mind knowing that while I’m working hard to make the world a greener, kinder and better place, that my super is doing the exact same thing.
Furthermore, they don’t just screen out companies and industries. Australian Ethical positively screens for companies to invest in. So in addition to investing in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors, the super fund also invests in education, healthcare, software, recycling and waste management and even in financial institutions practicing responsible banking and lending.
Transparency has been high on my priority list ever since I stepped foot in that garment factory and grew a huge fashion conscience. Wanting to know the who, what, when, where, why and how is second nature to me now (note: this is a figure of speech but you get the drift, I want nothing hidden and companies to lay their operations bare).
People can’t make informed decisions unless they have all the answers, and when it comes to personal finance, transparency is crucial. If we are going to change the often destructive nature of capitalism, we need to hold it to account, and this starts with ensuring decisions surrounding money and investments are transparent.
Naturally, Australian Ethical meets this criteria and gets a big tick from me. It is one of the few investment managers and super funds in Australia committed to transparency. It’s so committed, in fact, that Australian Ethical actually discloses all the companies it has investments with, such as biotech company CSL Limited.
“We believe it is important that investors know where their money is invested and what activities it is funding.” –Australian Ethical website
What I love about this super fund is it’s even open and transparent about its divestments, particularly when companies fail to meet their ethical standards. Last year, they dumped AMP shares after the Royal Banking Commission found serious misconduct in its financial practices (they even published a whole post about it) and most recently, IOOF.
If you’re like me and think it’s counterproductive to have your super financing companies that go against your values and want to place your money with a super fund that champions social good and a cleaner world, make the switch to ethical super today. It’ll take you less than five minutes, but the positive impacts will last your lifetime.
For more information, visit www.australianethical.com.au.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Australian Ethical. Any opinions expressed are held by that of the author. The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. Before making financial decisions, you will need to consider your financial situation and objectives, and if necessary, consult a financial advisor. Company details and other specific product information is checked with the sponsoring business. For more information about our policies, click here.
Feature image via Shutterstock.