Gates Foundation Investments At Odds With Mission

After receiving some bad press from the Los Angeles Times last week for owning shares in "many companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker rights or unethical practices," the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would be conducting a systematic review of its investments.

Bill Gates

Some of the more controversial holdings of the Gates Foundation brought to light by the report include companies ranked among the worst U.S. and Canadian polluters, such as ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical and Tyco International. Investments in pharmaceutical companies that have priced drugs beyond the reach of sick people also do not sit well with public health advocates, who have worked with the foundation’s funds to save lives in poor developing countries.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Times reports that Gates Foundation Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Scott has said that the foundation’s current method of investing its assets is "not 100 percent effective" and that "there are cases simply where the situation is so egregious it will cause us not to invest." Human rights advocates hope the foundation uses the upcoming review as a springboard to weed companies out of its portfolio that conduct operations at odds with its grant-making goals.

Sources: latimes.com; The Seattle Times

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