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Ethical Investors in Canada

By Jennifer Peers

Ethical investing has been around for over a century, dating back to 18th century Quakers (Rayer, 2017). However, the demand for stocks that reflect the values of investors has become more prominent with issues such as global warming becoming more exacerbated over time. Accompanying the growing demand for ethical investments are a whole slew of new terms for it, including; socially responsible investing, impact investing, environment, social and governance investing, sustainable investing and green investing among others.

We collected survey questions from 1994 to 2019 to see how Canadian’s feel about ethical investing. We identified fifty survey questions related to ethical investing. The survey questions and corresponding data have been shared on OpenICPSR for those interested in the data.

Several interesting observations emerged from the data collected. In particular, a data set from 2007 to 2011 appears to show a decline amongst Canadians over the years, in volunteering, donating, and ethical investing 

One reason for this decline could be the 2008 recession which financially devastated the global economy and many consumers along with it. During times of financial hardship, charitable giving typically declines. As one Stanford University article put it, “in 2009 the economic downturn of 2008 has given rise to one of the largest year-over-year declines in charitable giving since the late 1960s” (Reich & Wimer, 2012).

The collected data for these years also demonstrates that behaviors such as donating to charitable causes, boycotting a company on ethical grounds, and buying a product or service because of an established link to a charitable organization are more prevalent in Canada than ethical investing. This suggests that this practice is still relatively unfamiliar to Canadian consumers despite it being around for some time. Correspondingly, one survey found between 2017-2019 that most Canadians have heard about responsible investing but know little or nothing about it.

Question: To what extent are you knowledgeable about responsible investments that consider ESG factors?

Year I have heard about responsible investing but know little or nothing about it
2017 54%
2018 46%
2019 49%

While knowledge on ethical investing may be limited for many Canadians, their desire for more ethical investing opportunities is clear from the data. A recent Ipsos poll found that 63% of Canadian investors are interested in starting or building their portfolio of ethical investments. This increasing demand for investments that align with investors values will require more resources and supports from Canada’s banks and investment companies.

Compiling Research to Find the Ethical Investor

By Lindsay Mewhiney & Monika Nawrocki

Over the past six weeks, we worked to develop an annotated bibliography examining what the academic literature says about ‘ethical investing’. For this research, we partnered with Union: Sustainable Development Co-operative, who seeks to apply our result to support the organization’s efforts to buy and manage multi-unit residential and commercial properties for the environmental, social, and economic benefit of Waterloo Region. This research attempt to answer the questions of “why do people invest in ethical investments?” and “who is likely to invest in impact/ethical investments?”. By answering these questions, future projects will be able to utilize this research to more effectively market ethical investment products and identify potential consumers.

After consulting with Sean Campbell of Union: Sustainable Development Co-operative and Anthony Piscitelli of Conestoga College, we searched databases with a list of key terms and added relevant sources into our document. After further analyzing sources, we wrote annotated bibliographies for a total of 39 sources to provide a concise summary of each source and its practical implications for research regarding ethical investing and understanding investor motivations. 

The research we conducted primarily discusses ethical investor motivations, investor profiles, and how ethical investment marketing and communication materials for consumers can be improved to increase rates of ethical investing. This compiled research will contribute to future projects with the goal of improving economic, social, and environmental health in the community, carried out by Union: Sustainable Development Co-operative and partner organizations.

The annotated bibliography can be found here:

https://threehundredthirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Ethical-Investments-Annotated-Bibliography.pdf

2020 Student Blog Series

In January 2020 ThreeHundredThirtyEight.com introduced a new blog series featuring content written by Conestoga College Public Service Program students.

Seven student blog posts appeared in the series:

A Progressive Country with an Archaic Electoral System, Is There a Need for Reform? By: Shane Calderwood

Rent Control: The Hidden Truth By: Onomo Ogbe

Abortion In Canada, Are Charter Rights being Infringed Upon? By: Emalee Patrick

How safe are Canadian School Buses? By: Olufunke Pegba-Otemolu

It’s time for Universal Pharmacare in Canada By: Sarah Jefferies

Carbon Tax is Not Enough – the Rich Can (and Will) Keep Polluting By: Lindsay Mewhiney

How secularism became Quebec’s Achilles heel By: Jennifer Peers