Investors Standing Against Genocide

I was recently heartened to learn that the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association -- College Retirement Equities Fund (referred to more briefly as TIAA-CREF) is taking action in regard to investments that support genocide in Darfur.

Some big oil companies, you see, are doing business with the Sudanese government, and in the course of buying oil, are providing the money that funds much of the violence. So TIAA-CREF has now joined a bunch of mutual funds and other big investors to  demand changes. It's a big deal, because TIAA-CREF manages some $400 billion in assets. It's giving the companies in its portfolios with ties to Sudan until the end of the year to make progress in addressing humanitarian needs and reducing the genocide. PetroChina (NYSE: PTR  ) is a main target of many antigenocide groups.

Activism in action
As an Armenian-American, I'm no stranger to the concept of genocide. So I find the ongoing campaign against complicit companies exciting to watch as it gains traction. The Investors Against Genocide and Sudan Divestment Task Force websites offer a lot of information, as well as a way to lobby your fund companies to participate. Already, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  ) has completely divested, as has Allianz. Fund companies such as T. Rowe Price are now screening for companies whose business dealings support the genocide.

The bottom line is that progress is being made.

Take action, yourself
Still, it's only a small step. There are plenty of other issues that ordinary investors feel strongly about, but the key is to join with bigger investors. After all, many big companies are majority-owned by institutional investors, like pension funds and mutual fund companies. Here are some examples:

Company

CAPS Rating (out of five)

% Owned by Institutions

Accenture (NYSE: ACN  )

*****

79%

Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL  )

*****

73%

Corning (NYSE: GLW  )

*****

78%

Johnson & Johnson

*****

60%

Western Union (NYSE: WU  )

*****

93%

PepsiCo

*****

68%

Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM  )

*****

74%

Data: Motley Fool CAPS.

With a little online exploration, you can learn much more about issues that matter to you. Doing our little part can be valuable, especially when we influence the bigger players.

You have the power to influence companies and fund managers, and even to make shareholder proposals at companies in which you're invested. You can also vote with your dollars. Bottom line: Don't think that just because you only own a few shares of a fund or company that your opinions don't matter -- they do. 

Learn more here:

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, Berkshire Hathaway, and PepsiCo. Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. Accenture, Berkshire Hathaway, and Western Union are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Berkshire Hathaway and Western Union are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.


Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2009, at 12:13 PM, TideGoesOut wrote:

    There's only a few things I won't invest in: diamonds (except for the Canadian mines), tobacco, Monsanto. Kind of sad that one company stands out so much from a whole industry.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2009, at 12:13 PM, pondee619 wrote:

    "It's giving the companies in its portfolios with ties to Sudan" Which companies are these? I'd like to help. Are the companies listed in your article the ones against whom we should take action? I own Pepsi, am I unwittingly advancing genocide? Why else would these companies be listed in an article entitled "Investors Standing Against Genocide"?

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2009, at 12:23 PM, catoismymotor wrote:

    The following idea is half baked. Proceed with caution.

    MO sells a lot of tabacco in China. The Chinese government owns PTR. MO should strike a deal with PTR to give them tobacco. MO consequintly poisons PTR. PTR employees are too sick to work, production decreases to the point they can't continue in Sudan. PTR leaves Sudan, taking their money with them. The Sudanese government then can't afford to continue killing innocent people. Tada! I want my peace prize!

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2009, at 8:08 AM, TMFSelena wrote:

    Hi, folks --

    You can learn more here:

    http://investorsagainstgenocide.net/

    and here:

    http://www.sudandivestment.org/

    I'm not aware of Pepsi being a stock to avoid -- I listed it and some others as examples of the degree to which many companies are owned by big institutions that together wield a lot of influence.

    Selena

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2009, at 10:05 AM, pondee619 wrote:

    So, my question was which companies to avoid in my fight against genocide. Your "answer" provided no help as neither link listed any companies which should be avoided in such a battle. I checked those sites when I first read your story. Why you thought repeating the same information was helpful escapes me. If you don't know the answer to a question, please just say so.

    Listing companies under the Headline "Investors Standing Against Genocide" which do not have connections to genocide is irresponsible and borders on libel. Or are you just trying to get "hits" on your article by having widely held companies listed under a Genocide banner?

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