Being "salt and light" in the world of investing

Praxis update |

Our dual role in impacting the world for the better

Editor's note: This article was originally posted by Corporate Governance.

Christians are called to be “salt and light” in this world. This reference to a passage in the book of Matthew chapter 5 (vs. 13-16) speaks to the dual role we all can have in impacting our world for the better.

To be salt is to be “in the world but not of it,” to participate while also influencing and affecting. We’re also challenged to care for and preserve the uniqueness of this influence, so our efforts won’t be diluted by the forces around us. To be light is to illuminate a path forward. It pushes back the darkness and distractions and calls us toward a brighter, more positive future.

What then does “salt and light” have to do with the world of investing? The Bible contains more than 2,700 references to money, economics, and the use of resources – more than almost any other topic. So clearly this stuff is important.

First, we recognize that economics and investing play an incredibly important role in our lives and significantly shape the world we live in. While some faith-based investment managers focus primarily on screening out investments that don’t align with their values, there is so much more we can do. As a witness to the faith and values we hold, Christian investors have many ways that they can use their investments to impact individuals, communities and the world for the better. This is the “light” we can offer.

The emergence of environmental, social and governance risk data has helped us manage both the financial and global/community impact of our investments in new ways. The integration of ESG data has rapidly become part of the mainstream investment management processes. But exactly how this data is used and the values that are supported depend on the manager. Faith-based investors should take an active role in advocating and educating to promote a transparent business and reporting environment that benefits all stakeholders. We take this responsibility seriously and believe this information not only supports our prudent investment processes but informs our desire to productively manage the impact our funds have on Creation and communities.

As faith-based investors, we have many strategies that can deepen the positive, transformative influence our investments have on the world around us. Through proxy voting and company engagement, investors can encourage companies to change their practices to align better with our faith values. Participating in values-based proxy voting provides investors an avenue to communicate their support for important values and ESG resolutions on hundreds of corporate ballots annually. Company engagement provides intentional dialogue with senior company leaders, through both shareholder and bondholder relationships, to promote positive change in corporate policy and practice.

Where we invest also matters. Investing in positive impact bonds can deliver targeted, real-world benefit to the climate and/or communities through market-rate investments. In addition, Christian investors might consider investing in funds that support community investing initiatives that promote the inclusion and development of underserved communities through potentially concessionary investments providing deep, real-world change where it is needed most.

There are many opportunities for your investments to make real impact, whether it’s encouraging companies to become better corporate citizens through company engagement or supporting underserved communities through community investing. At Praxis Mutual Funds, we recognize there is so much that we can do and that Christian investors can – and should – remember to be the “salt and light” in the investing world.

Mark Regier, Vice President of Stewardship Investing | Praxis Mutual Funds
Author Mark A. Regier
Vice President of Stewardship Investing

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