Column: Social Investing in Companies that Support Gay Rights

Socially responsible investing has its genres. Many investors avoid companies that produce or trade in weapons, cigarettes or prisons. Some investors consider environmental and social governance concerns. More and more LGBT investors prefer investing in companies with language in their Equal Employment Opportunity Statement prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Companies offering health benefits to same sex partners or spouses of employees also communicate acceptance. Younger LGBT investors are even more likely than older investors to turn to socially responsible investing. 

We are all well served to remember that though we have come a long way in acquiring our civil rights over the past eleven years since the first state approved same-sex marriage, our road is still littered with homophobia. Discrimination faces LGBT investors across the spectrum of their lives and when deciding where to put their investment dollars many opt for companies with solid records of providing anti-discriminatory workplace policies, benefits for same sex spouses and vocal opposition to governments, organizations and individuals who espouse intolerance.

The recent proliferation of discriminatory anti-gay laws being discussed or outright passed by several state legislatures shows that we still have a way to go — that despite all of our success there are still those who want nothing more to limit our rights. These laws spring from companies, churches and individuals whose goal is to legalize discrimination. Though almost certainly unconstitutional these laws are simply a backlash to the speed with which LGBT civil rights and same-sex marriage has advanced in the last few years.

Listening to the cacophony of discriminatory rhetoric coming from the corporate world KapitallWire, a financial news and analysis website, decided to find out which companies are truly supportive of LBGT rights and issues. They began with a list of companies that purported to understand the needs of the LGBT community, from any marriage benefits they provide to health coverage for transgender people. KapitallWire created a list of socially responsible stocks by running a screen using CSRHub, which measures corporate social responsibility. Visit their website for details on each company.

Here is their list:

  1. American Airlines AAL
  2. American Apparel, Inc. APP
  3. Apple Inc. AAPL
  4. Boeing Co. BA
  5. Google Inc. GOOG
  6. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. GMCR
  7. The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. HAIN
  8. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. HIG
  9. Health Net, Inc. HNT
  10. Herman Miller Inc. MLHR
  11. Hershey Co. HSY
  12. Hewlett-Packard Company HPQ
  13. International Business Machines Corp. IBM
  14. Microsoft Corporation MSFT
  15. Nike Inc. NKE
  16. Starbucks Corporation SBUX

Full disclosure: I don’t own any of the above listed stocks and do not suggest any of the above is appropriate for you. Any investment you make requires a broad range of consideration and social responsibility should be only one part of your decision process.

But this list can serve to show you where good places to spend our money are. Supporting those who support us makes good sense and serves to strengthen our allies while withholding resources from those who wish us ill. Even further these companies are good places for LBGT people to work; acceptance, benefits and support make any job more fulfilling.

In addition to individual stocks, an Exchange Traded Fund, ETF, such as The Workplace Equality Portfolio ETF - EQLT provides a simple way for investors to invest in a variety of companies with a socially responsible focus on LGBT issues and individuals.

For more than a decade EQLT has tracked the Workplace Equality Index, a stock index of America's leading equality minded corporations, including publicly traded companies that support LGBT equality in the workplace.

Whatever your socially responsible genre is, be certain your social responsibility does not blind you to the financial realities of any investment you decide to make. Even more than social responsibility the point of investing is to protect and grow your assets.

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