Feature: Investing with Pride
In recent years, the gay community has been increasingly vocal about boycotting companies that don’t promote gay rights.
That’s particularly been the case in the United States, where the debate over equal rights for same sex couples still rages in a polarised nation, both politically and culturally.
Over here in the UK, refusing to eat at Chick-fil-A has less of an impact.
But how can you be sure of the gay rights policies of companies that you want to buy shares in? The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) has given Fortune 1000 companies scores out of 100 based on their attitude towards equal rights.
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Here are a few other notable investment areas to look out for:
According to the CEI, finance is the second most-equal sector in the US (behind legal, but law firms tend not to list) with 36 companies boasting a ‘perfect’ 100 rating. Banking companies are ubiquitous, though, which means there are still 42 who have a 95 or below.
In terms of investment opportunities, American Express has seen some impressive growth over the past few years, almost doubling in value since the beginning of 2012. Morgan Stanley has seen similar growth, and both companies have outstripped the performance of their index easily. Both also hold a perfect 100 rating.
MasterCard narrowly outperformed Visa over the same period, growing 123% to Visa’s 116%. It also narrowly wins out in the CEI index, with a score of 100 to Visa’s 90.
Food and retail
There’s also plenty of opportunity for investment in the food and retail space. Fans of Whisky, Vodka, Guinness or Baileys can happily invest in Diageo, who owns all of those brands and boasts a 100 CEI rating.
In recent weeks, the ongoing saga of a possible merger with SABMiller (the world’s second biggest beer brewer) has hurt the company’s share price; but it has posted healthy growth for the past few years and many commentators believe that its current low pricing could change soon.
Clothing fans should be wary though, as only two brands – Levi’s and Nike – scored perfectly. Levi Strauss is a private company and as such ineligible for investment, but Nike’s stock market performance in recent years has been impressive.
Don’t let the lack of fashion companies in the list put you off too much though, as most major brands operate outside of the US and as such are ineligible.
One of the more popular areas amongst investors despite (or perhaps because of) the major volatility and risk involved, tech is also a great area for equality-conscious investors.
Major players Apple and Google (both of whom scored 100) have seen their increasing dominance of the market play out in their share price, and whilst Apple fell slightly off its peak in 2013 it has risen strongly since.
Google posted some positive revenue figures last week, and if their innovative projects come off then could be on for even more growth.
Other major companies like Microsoft, EA, Ebay, Yahoo, and Cisco have all been rated 100 for a couple of years now. It’s worth researching any potential investments, though, as away from the major players there are around 38 companies that failed to achieve a perfect score.
Investors should probably pay extra attention when trading into oil and gas companies or commodities, as that’s the industry with the least companies holding perfect equal rights records.
All in all, however, the opportunities for investing without inadvertently supporting a company whose outlook on gay rights isn’t up to scratch are plentiful. That’s mainly due to organisations like the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, who work tirelessly to ensure that we have a full idea of how companies are performing.
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