Your money is being used to support destructive and discriminatory business practices and there is something you can do about it.
It’s true: in 2008 the UC Regents voted, on your behalf, against 47 resolutions that would have prevented sexual orientation discrimination, upheld human rights, moved our country towards energy independence and encouraged sustainable business practices at companies the UC invests in. Ouch.
Voting against such resolutions demonstrates disconcerting irresponsibility on the part of the people who are charged with guiding our university. It shows a lack of concern for people and the planet, even when doing the right thing would cost the university virtually nothing. The UC Regents continue, year after year, to remain disengaged from investment decisions when issues of fairness to people and the environment inevitably arise. In doing so, our Regents fail to align our university’s investment practices with the principles we proudly uphold in the areas of research, teaching and public service.
With the fiscal future of the UC being negotiated in Sacramento right now, it is important for our university to reaffirm its commitment to the electorate. An obvious component of that commitment should be that the UC’s investments will not cause more harm than good for average Californians.
We should have a committee to oversee the social ramifications of the UC’s investments. Many highly respected institutional investors and peer institutions –including schools like Dartmouth and Columbia — have successfully implemented mechanisms like the UN Principles on Responsible Investing, and have seen positive impacts.
As stakeholders in this noble institution, each of us has an obligation to use our voice to encourage corporate accountability. If the Regents think that social equity and environmental protection are not their purviews then their reasoning is severely inhibited and it is our collective responsibility to correct it.
The reality is that true fiduciary responsibility involves being particularly cognizant of the social and environmental implications of an investment. Staying detached from the decisions of companies we invest in exposes our investments to undue social and environmental risks, potentially compromising future returns. The ramifications of social and environmental insensitivity are material risks; consumer backlash and huge legal penalties are increasingly common for corporate bad actors.
The University of California Regents will vote this Tuesday, Feb. 23 on a proposal that would allow the UC Endowment and Retirement accounts, totaling over $55 billion, to be managed with more resolute ethics, transparency and responsibility to the world at large. The impact of this would be monumental and global. I strongly urge all University of California community members to support this proposal by signing the petition at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/UC-Responsible-Investing.