Socially Responsible Investing
Georgetown University’s Socially Responsible Investing Policy (SRI Policy) aligns the university’s investment strategy with its commitment to social justice, protection of human life and dignity, stewardship for the planet and promotion of the common good.
The SRI Policy, approved by the Board of Directors on June 8, 2017, was developed by the board’s working group on socially responsible investments, which was formed in 2015 following the board’s decision to divest from direct investments in companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy production.
Socially Responsible Investing Policy
I. MISSION STATEMENT
Georgetown University (the “University”) is committed to exercising ethical management of the University’s endowment in the course of seeking to generate the highest level of returns commensurate with the goal of ensuring intergenerational equity. Recognizing that the endowment shall not be used as a tool to promote a political agenda, the University shall continue to integrate its commitment to social justice, protection of human life and dignity, stewardship for the planet, and promotion of the common good into its investment management practices.
This Socially Responsible Investing Policy (the “SRI Policy”) is informed by and embodies two principles of stewardship with respect to management and investment of the endowment. First, the University is required under the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act of the District of Columbia to exercise a duty of care and duty of loyalty in managing and investing the endowment. Second, the University has moral and ethical responsibilities to pursue investment returns in a manner that is consistent with the University’s educational and research mission and Catholic and Jesuit identity.
In making determinations based on the principles set forth in this policy, the University shall take into account, among other sources, the social teachings of the Catholic Church and the practices of peer academic institutions. The University acknowledges that effective implementation of this policy will require an ongoing commitment to fostering an institutional culture that brings together moral principles and individuals who are committed to integrating the spirit of this policy into the everyday life of the University.
The University will implement the SRI Policy through four interrelated strategies:
A. ALIGNMENT – “DO NO HARM”
In keeping with the principles outlined above, the University shall use reasonable efforts to avoid investments in companies that are substantially involved in the provision of abortion services. In addition, the University shall use reasonable efforts to avoid investments in companies that have demonstrated records of widespread violations of human dignity. As examples, this includes companies that are directly and significantly involved in the production of weapons that are intended to be used for indiscriminate destruction and companies that are engaged in activities having an extremely deleterious effect on the environment. Reasonable efforts will include appropriate due diligence and reliance on accurate data.
B. INTEGRATION – “LEAN TO THE POSITIVE”
The University will incorporate a thoughtful analysis of “Environmental, Social, and Governance” (“ESG”) factors into its evaluation of direct investments and external investment managers. When practical, the University intends to favor companies with superior ESG performance over those with poor track records in these areas. The University will encourage external investment managers to incorporate ESG factors into their analysis and reporting. The University will seek guidance from organizations with expertise in the area of ESG factors and corporate responsibility.
C. ENGAGEMENT – “CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE”
The University will continue to exercise its responsibilities as a direct shareholder through engagement with companies based on the principles set forth in this SRI Policy. With the advice of the University’s Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility (“CISR”), the University will engage with companies through various methods, including proxy voting, letter writing, and dialogue. Also, in rare cases, the Board may choose to lead or join with others in a public campaign when deemed to be necessary to promote the University’s principles and values.
D. IMPACT – “PROMOTE THE COMMON GOOD”
The University will consider investments that generate a positive social impact to promote the common good provided that these investments target a market rate of return on par with similar assets in the endowment. The University will not entertain investments that offer below-market rates of return (i.e., “concessionary returns”). The Investment Office will consider impact investments in a number of sectors, including, but not limited to, renewable energy, energy efficiency, healthcare, financial inclusion, education-enhancing technologies, and sustainable agriculture.
Under the oversight of the Subcommittee on Investments of the Board’s Committee on Finance and Administration, the University, through its Investment Office, will follow this SRI Policy with respect to direct investments. The Investment Office will inform its external investment managers of this policy. External investment managers will be asked to incorporate the strategies set forth in this policy into their investment practices and to notify the Investment Office if they make investments that are in conflict with this policy. The Investment Office intends to favor external investment managers that are capable of incorporating the strategies set forth in this policy. CISR, which is comprised of student, faculty and administrative representatives, will offer advice and guidance on the implementation of this policy.
The Board of Directors has adopted this SRI Policy to memorialize the University’s existing commitment to meeting its fiduciary responsibilities and generating resources to advance the University’s academic mission in a manner consistent with its Catholic mission and Jesuit identity. The University will continue its efforts to engage on Socially Responsible Investing within this framework.