For-profit

Domini Impact Investments

Domini Impact Investments (formerly Domini Social Investments) is a for-profit investment advisory group that engages in impact investing and shareholder activism in favor of left-leaning causes such as gun control and environmentalism. It has $2.4 billion in assets under management and offers two equity funds and a bond fund. [1]

Domini Impact Investments was founded in 1994 by Amy Domini, who also started the KLD 400 Social Index (formerly the Domini 400 Social Index), the first benchmark for socially screened equity portfolios. [2] Time magazine named Domini to the Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people in 2005 for helping to start the impact investing trend. [3]

Domini Impact Investments engages in activist investment by filing shareholder proposals, proxy voting, and advocating for left-leaning public policies. [4] From its founding in 1994 through December 2018, Domini had filed 289 shareholder proposals with over 100 companies on issues such as environmental reporting, gender diversity in the workplace, and executive compensation. [5]

Investment Approach

Domini claims to orient its investments around the twin goals of “universal human dignity and ecological sustainability,” prioritizing companies that it says inherently advance those goals such as environmentalist energy and vaccine production companies. However, it also invests in a range of companies and industries that it deems socially and environmentally responsible. [6]

Domini excludes at least five industries from its investments that it identifies as “fundamentally misaligned” with its goals, including weapons and firearms; nuclear technology; oil and natural gas; coal; and tobacco, alcohol, and gambling. [7]

It alleges without evidence that nuclear power is “tied to the proliferation of nuclear weapons” and presents “significant risks to human health.” [8]

In 2018, warning of the risk of “catastrophic climate change,” Domini broadened its opposition to conventional energy sources by abolishing “all companies in the energy sector” from its eligible investment universe, including equipment and service providers, refiners and marketers, and energy storage and transportation firms. [9]

Its flagship mutual fund, the Domini Impact Equity Fund, had $927 million invested as of 2017. [10] Despite claiming an unconventional and principled investment approach, its top five holdings are Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Pfizer, resembling the holdings of many traditional mutual funds. [11]

Activism

Domini uses shareholder resolutions to pressure companies and attempt to expose any activities that do not align with its left-leaning priorities.

Technology

It divested from Facebook over what it called “a crisis of governance and accountability” following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018. [12] It has remained critical of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ever since and actively promotes governance changes at the company. [13]

Environmentalism

For example, in 2017, Domini filed a resolution asking Kraft Heinz to prepare a public report on how it is assessing its “supply chain impact on deforestation and associated human rights issues, and its plans to mitigate these risks.” [14]

In both 2018 and 2019, it has filed shareholder resolutions with steel firm Nucor that would require the company to disclose any of its lobbying efforts opposing environmentalist priorities. [15]

Domini is particularly vocal on environmental issues, calling for government action and pressuring companies to adopt rigorous standards. It does not invest its funds not only in coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power companies, but also in energy transportation, storage, and advertising firms. [16]

Through its activist investing and shareholder resolutions, it has pressured companies to set emissions and reductions targets, disclose energy impact, and a broadening list of other demands. [17] Founder Amy Domini has urged the Catholic Church to divest from its U.S. oil investments. [18]

Gun Control

Domini Impact Investments is a vocal supporter of gun control and has stated that all companies “have a responsibility to assess whether their products, services, and political activities are contributing to an epidemic of gun violence.” [19]

Founder Amy Domini stated, “it is morally wrong to invest in guns” and promoted gun divestment following the Parkland Florida high school shooting in 2017. [20] Other Domini executives called for government action on gun control and encouraged larger institutional investors to join the pressure campaign. [21]

In 2019, it announced support for a legislative proposal that would require mutual funds to disclose holdings in gun manufacturers. [22]

References

  1. “Statement of Additional Information.” Domini Impact Investments. June 15, 2018. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/DIT_SAI__with-Class-Y_485b_06152018.pdf ^
  2. Schyndel, Zoe Van. “Go Green With Socially Responsible Investing.” Investopedia. Jun 25, 2019. Accessed November 15, 2019. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/07/clean_and_green.asp ^
  3. “Bio: Amy Domini.” Dimini.com. Accessed November 15, 2019. https://www.domini.com/about-domini/our-staff/amy-domini ^
  4. “Engagement: Your Money at Work.” Domini.com. Accessed November 21, 2019.  https://www.domini.com/investing-for-impact/engagement ^
  5. “2018 Engagement Highlights.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 52. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  6. Domini, Amy. “Letter from the CEO and Chair.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  7. “Exclusionary Screens.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 14. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  8. “Exclusionary Screens.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 14. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  9. “Evolution of our Fossil Fuel Standards.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 15. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  10. Moyer, Liz. “As Funds Invoke Bible Values, Others See Intolerance.” New York Times. Feb. 28, 2017. Accessed November 15, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/business/dealbook/christian-investment-funds.html ^
  11. “Standards in Action: Domini Impact Equity Fund.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 20. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  12. Vittorio, Andrea. “Domini Divests From Facebook Over Post-Data Leak ‘Crisis.’” Big Law Business. May 17, 2018. Accessed November 21, 2019. https://biglawbusiness.com/domini-divests-from-facebook-over-post-data-leak-crisis ^
  13. “Freedom of Expression, Privacy, and Cybersecurity.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 56. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  14. Cheeseman, Gina-Marie. “Kraft Heinz Opposes Sustainability Shareholder Resolutions.” TriplePundit. March 14, 2017. https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2017/kraft-heinz-opposes-sustainability-shareholder-resolutions/18966 ^
  15. “2018 Engagement Highlights.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 53. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  16. “Evolution of our Fossil Fuel Standards.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 15. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  17. “2018 Engagement Highlights.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 52. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
  18. Valdamis, Richard. “Pope’s climate push at odds with U.S. Catholic oil investments.” August 12, 2015. Accessed November 15, 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-catholic-fossilfuels-insight/popes-climate-push-at-odds-with-u-s-catholic-oil-investments-idUSKCN0QH0E620150812 ^
  19. “Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report.” Docplayer.net. Accessed December 6, 2019. https://docplayer.net/132026981-Domini-domini-funds-p-o-box-9785-funds-providence-ri.html. ^
  20. Colby, Laura and Charles Stein. “Guns-Divesting Activist Calls Strategy a Failure.” Bloomberg News. March 13, 2018. Accessed November 15, 2019. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-13/guns-divesting-activist-calls-strategy-a-failure-changes-tack ^
  21. Rushe, Dominic. “Gun company investors push for change after Florida school shooting.” February 28, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/28/gun-company-investors-florida-school-shooting ^
  22. “Addressing Gun Violence.” Domini Funds 2018 Impact Report. PDF. Page 58. https://www.domini.com/uploads/files/reports/Domini-Funds-2018-Impact-Report.pdf ^
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