There’s No One-Stop Shopping for Socially Conscious Money Publications
Despite a trunkload of yellowing press clippings from the mainstream media and the burgeoning ranks of socially responsible mutual funds, coverage of progressive money issues remains a niche market.
There still isn’t a full-fledged magazine-particularly of the slick, bimonthly variety-that serves the socially conscious money community. Business Ethics, which was a publication like that, recently had to retrench, changing from glossy to newsletter format and cutting back staff. And despite the billions being invested into social screens, Good Money, the nation’s first socially responsible investment (SRI) newsletter, recently ceased printed publication after 15 years (it still maintains a web site).
To stay fully informed about socially conscious money issues, you need to subscribe to several different journals. I’ll note in passing that both E and Green Living, the environmental journal I publish and edit, cover financial issues. For the general green reader interested in one-stop reading, however, Co-op America Quarterly is your best bet. Best known for its National Green Pages, the Quarterly has regular columns on product boycotts, green consuming, and ethical investing trends. The Quarterly even offers some tidbits for those who run businesses-although the investment-minded should try In Business or Business Ethics.
Another good source of information about investing and “making a difference” is The GreenMoney Journal, which publishes a useful chart showing the performance of socially responsible mutual funds, and offers some excellent Web sites for further exploration (The GreenMoney Online Guide at www.greenmoney.com and SRInvest at www.tbzweb.com/srinvest). This is not just another business magazine; a recent article focused on the place where spirituality and business intersect.
Despite its slimmer size, Business Ethics remains a well-crafted journal. Publisher/editor Marjorie Kelly has done a fine job exploring some of the thornier questions surrounding ethical business, and has avoided becoming a “good business” cheerleader (a great temptation when a significant portion of your magazine’s revenue comes from advertising). In its most recent, 10th anniversary issue, Business Ethics’ editorial focus was “What has ethical business accomplished in 10 years?” The quick answer: Despite some attitude shifts and consciousness raising, big corporate interests are more entrenched than ever.
For how-to advice, In Business, focusing exclusively on environmental entrepreneurs, is the top choice. In Business covers trends, profiles green companies and has regular columns on marketing. Many of the articles are geared to new, small operations and don’t require an MBA to understand (41 percent of its readers are in the dreaming/planning stage).
Social investors looking for stock recommendations will want The Clean Yield newsletter or Franklin Research’s Insight. Both journals, which are published by well-respected SRI money management firms, follow the traditional investment newsletter format of in-depth stock recommendations and follow-up on previous picks. Each avoids the hyperbole rampant among investment gurus and gives social assessments of the companies it recommends, along with the financials. Insight subscribers automatically receive Investing for a Better World (also available separately). It covers news and trends in the SRI field, but doesn’t give financial advice. A recent column notes that consumers are slow to pick up on positive changes in corporate policies. It cites the case of Coors, a fixture on many boycott lists, though it has had progressive policies in place since 1987. (Coors has even been boycotted by the religious right for extending benefits to same sex part ners and supporting AIDS-related causes.)
Social investors seeking to change corporate behavior through the potent tool of shareholder activism need The Corporate Examiner. Published by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsiblity, the country’s leading organizer of progressive shareholder resolutions, it highlights the most significant issues before shareholders.
MARSHALL GLICKMAN is publisher of the Vermont-based Green Living.