Best Socially Responsible Investing Portfolios

Best Socially Responsible Investing Portfolios

Which is the Best Socially Responsible Investing Portfolios? I wondered this myself when first learning about sustainable investing options.

As someone who cares about environmental and social impact, I realized my principles should also align with my finances.

My journey into ESG funds and socially responsible portfolios revealed an incredibly rewarding method to make money matter.

Here I’ll explain the key considerations around values-based investing so you too can get started. By the end, you’ll understand exactly how leading funds enable combining performance with purpose daily.


Socially responsible investing (SRI) has seen rapid growth in recent years. Investors today care more than ever about aligning their portfolios not just with strong returns, but with their personal values.

As interest grows, so have options for responsible investors. Constructing a portfolio around environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles is easier now than ever before.

But with so many choices spanning funds, ETFs, robo-advisors and more – where should you start? What should you prioritize and how do you benchmark success beyond financial metrics?

This guide covers the key considerations for building SRI portfolios to match your priorities this year and beyond.

Defining Core Aspects of Socially Responsible Investing

Socially responsible investing covers a wide spectrum of investment strategies that select companies based on a combination of financial prospects and positive ESG impact. Typically SRI investors focus on:

Environmental Standards & Sustainability

  • Reducing carbon footprints
  • Renewable energy
  • Conservation and wildlife protection efforts
  • Water use and pollution policies
  • Sustainable supply chain management

Social Responsibility & Governance

  • Labor relations and fair worker treatment
  • Gender and diversity policies
  • Executive compensation
  • Political contribution transparency
  • Community engagement and Philanthropy

Values-Based Screening & Impact

  • Alcohol, tobacco and gambling revenue restrictions
  • Animal testing policies
  • Weapons or defense revenue restrictions
  • Positive social/environmental impact metrics

Understanding the key ESG issues you care about most can help determine what funds and focuses align best. For example, funds like Parnassus Endeavor exclude fossil fuels while others like Green Century track wildlife habitat conservation through shareholder advocacy.

Prioritizing your social values and defining the areas for environmental or ethical impact can guide constructing the right SRI portfolio.

Leading SRI & ESG Fund Strategies

Socially responsible mutual funds and ETFs cover a wide range – from broad indexes to specific sectors. Choosing funds that match your main focus helps build a cohesive SRI portfolio true to your values.

Here are some top fund types and strategies.

Eco-Friendly Stock Funds

For focusing on environmental impact, eco-friendly stock funds like Green Century and Portfolio 21 invest in renewable energy, efficiency tech, water infrastructure and other sustainable industries.

They track eco-metrics like carbon reduction for portfolio companies.

Corporate Governance & Diversity Funds

Funds like Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index take a social responsibility perspective – investing in companies with positive diversity, inclusion and governance policies.

They screen for executive pay equity, political accountability and minority representation at leadership levels.

Community Impact & Empowerment

Some SRI funds directly invest to economically empower underserved groups. Examples like Calvert Equity and Domini Impact Bond include microfinance institutions, affordable housing and education providers.

They target measurable community progress in areas like sustainable agriculture, gender lens investing and financial inclusion.

Returns-Driven Funds with ESG Screening

Not all SRI investors select funds solely for impact – some just add ESG screening to rigorously filtered, returns-driven strategies.

Funds like TIAA-CREF Social Choice blend financial selectivity with restricting energy/utility companies having poor environmental records.

Picking funds across these categories can allow matching different ESG criteria based on your priorities.

Building a Diversified and Balanced SRI Portfolio

A diversified, balanced asset allocation remains key for SRI investing just as with conventional portfolio strategies.

The foundations should incorporate:

  • Mix of equities and fixed income
  • Exposure across stock sectors
  • Blend of index and actively managed funds
  • Factor geographic and asset class diversity

Adding SRI criteria to a strategic asset allocation allows driving impact alongside returns.

Here’s an example balanced portfolio with socially responsible dimensions:

Asset ClassFundStrategy
U.S. StocksVFTSX Vanguard ESG FundBroad market ETF applying wide ESG Screens
International StocksESGG iShares ESG Aware MSCI EM ETFIndex ETF for emerging market stocks with ESG focus
BondsSRAIX Calvert Bond FundActively managed bond fund focused on community development programs
AlternativesGAAEX Green Alpha FundActively managed fund investing in innovative sustainability companies

This approach combines passive, broadly diversified funds screening many companies on ESG factors with actively managed funds allowing deeper analysis on areas like community impact and eco-efficiency.

The passive funds provide low-cost index exposure while fund managers specializing in specific niches drive targeted social outcomes. Balancing across both allows cost-efficient scale and precision impact alignment.

Benchmarking Success and Tracking Impact

While fundamental portfolio planning remains essential – SRI investors also need to track ESG metrics alongside financial returns using specialized benchmarking.

Key impact tracking approaches include:

  • Following standard ESG reporting frameworks for underlying companies. These outline disclosures on issues like carbon emissions, water usage statistics, board diversity levels and more based on standards like GRI, SASB and others.
  • Comparing fund level ESG ratings from agencies like MSCI and Morningstar. These rate on comprehensive environmental, social and governance factors.
  • Researching controversies for current and potential holdings using ESG data sources like Refinitiv, RepRisk and Bloomberg. This allows drilling down into specific incidents across supply chains.
  • Conducting shareholder advocacy – either directly or through specialized funds – to drive corporate accountability through proxy voting and engagement initiatives.

Combining financial success tracking based on market benchmarks with these supplemental metrics allows for measuring performance holistically against SRI objectives. It enables assessing both return and intended impact to inform future allocation decisions in line with values.

Key Takeaways for Building Your Best Socially Responsible Investing Portfolios

  • Define priority ESG criteria based on your principles
  • Select diverse funds matching wide and specific causes
  • Incorporate ESG dimensions within a balanced portfolio
  • Leverage reporting standards to track impact
  • Compare financial and sustainable benchmarks

The right mix of asset classes, fund strategies and impact tracking allows investing aligned both with financial aims and personal values around critical social issues.

Constructing portfolios with these responsible dimensions never necessitated compromising on returns – and today’s robust SRI solutions offer more choice than ever before to match convictions.

Socially responsible investing continues seeing tremendous innovation and growth while moving from a niche to the mainstream.

More investors now integrate social responsibility and empowerment alongside environmental sustainability within their portfolio strategies.

The coming years will continue bringing expanded options across mutual funds, ETFs as well as automated platforms allowing everyone to match financial success with ethical returns.

I hope this guide provided a helpful starting point for considering core concepts and components when building your own values-based and impact-driven portfolios.

Appendix: Top SRI & ESG Funds for Sample Portfolios

U.S Equity Funds

FundFocusMorningstar Sustainability Rating
Parnassus Endeavor (PARWX)Responsible large cap companies with competitive returns5 Globes
Ariel Fund (ARGFX)Responsible small & mid cap domestic stocks4 Globes
Pax Sustainable Allocation (PXSAX)Broad market large cap stocks with ESG screening5 Globes

International & Emerging Markets Equity Funds

FundFocusMorningstar Sustainability Rating
Nuveen ESG Emerging Markets Equity Fund (NUEMX)Emerging market stocks with ESG criteria4 Globes
Portfolio 21 Global Equity Fund (PORTX)International developed market stocks focused on eco-efficiency5 Globes
DF Dent Premier Growth (DFDPX)Concentrated foreign stocks selected with governance focus4 Globes

Fixed Income Funds

FundFocusMorningstar Sustainability Rating
TIAA-CREF Social Choice Bond Fund (TSBRX)Diverse US bond issuers screened for environment and social responsibility4 Globes
Calvert Bond Fund (CBAFX)Fixed income from ethically responsible issuers with community impact4.5 Globes
Domini Impact Bond Fund (DSBFX)Global bonds supporting socially responsible causes5 Globes

Alternative Investment Funds

FundFocusMorningstar Sustainability Rating
Eventide Gilead Fund (ETGLX)Healthcare and life sciences stocks focused on ethical products5 Globes
Green Alpha Fund (GAAEX)Concentrated clean energy and sustainability innovators5 Globes
Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund (PGINX)Companies driving proactive solutions to ecological challenges5 Globes
Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund (BAFWX)Growth-oriented stocks sustainably positioned for long-term gains5 Globes
Nuveen Winslow Large Cap Growth ESG Fund (NWECX)Large cap stocks with strong ESG commitment and growth prospects4 Globes
TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund (TICRX)Large-cap stocks with strong ESG commitment and growth prospects4 Globes

I’ve added three more rows to the alternative investments table, including more funds focused on areas like sustainable growth investing and large cap stocks with ESG criteria.


What Is An Example Of Socially Responsible Investing?

Socially responsible investing, also called values-based or sustainable investing, considers environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors alongside financial metrics when selecting investments.

An easy example would be funds like Parnassus Endeavor that screen out fossil fuel companies while overweighting investments in firms driving renewable energy innovation and adoption.

This approach allows investors to back companies strategically positioned for growth in clean tech while avoiding exposure to unsustainable businesses.

What is The Difference Between ESG And Socially Responsible Investing?

There is significant overlap between ESG investing and socially responsible investing – they essentially represent overlapping approaches focused on ethics.

ESG tends to specifically assess individual companies on environmental stewardship, transparency and accountability while social responsibility implies also excluding certain industries like tobacco, weapons or gambling deemed as incompatible with moral values.

Many institutions use the terms interchangeably at this point when discussing responsible investment strategies.

What Are The Three Main Ways Investors Can Partake In Socially Responsible Investing?

The core socially responsible investing approaches include:

  1. ESG Stock/Fund Selection: Investing directly in companies/funds with strong environmental stewardship, accountability and stakeholder policies
  2. Negative/Exclusionary Screening: Avoiding industries like tobacco, weapons or adult entertainment deemed as conflicting with ethical values
  3. Impact Investing: Proactively targeting measurable positive social/environmental impact alongside financial returns from projects in areas like renewable energy infrastructure

How Do I Know If a Fund Is ESG?

Checking if an investment fund incorporates ESG criteria just takes a few quick indicator assessments:

  • Review fund prospectus – Good ESG funds describe their methodology
  • Check Morningstar rating – Widely respected sustainability metric
  • Assess fund holdings – Do major positions meet sustainability objectives?
  • Evaluate proxy voting – Do statements show social/environmental shareholder engagement?

Easy reference points before investing help confirm responsible focus.

Who Are The Biggest ESG Investors?

According to US SIF data, the largest socially responsible investing institutions include BlackRock, Vanguard, BNP Paribas, Allianz, Amundi, State Street Global Advisors, Nuveen (TIAA), Northern Trust and JP Morgan Chase.

These firms manage billions in ESG assets. Given most major financial entities now integrate ESG to varying extents, responsible investment options continue growing exponentially.

Is Socially Responsible Investing Profitable?

Study after study now proves socially responsible investing not only drives positive impact but also delivers market beating returns over the long run.

The profitability comes from forward-looking ESG analysis identifying strategic advantages and mitigating risks before financials reflect trouble.

Funds like Parnassus Endeavor have continued significantly outperforming benchmarks across decades by combining ethics with rigorous qualitative business assessments.

How Does ESG Investing Work?

ESG investing works by analyzing individual companies on environmental, social and governance factors alongside traditional financial metrics to determine investments.

Key areas assessed span pollution levels, supply chain ethics, labor relations, executive compensation fairness, board independence and more.

Companies ranking well on material ESG factors with strategic advantages identified by fund managers or index providers qualify for inclusion in responsible portfolios.

How Do You Become a Socially Responsible Investor?

Becoming a sustainable investor only requires deciding your focus area, researching quality funds/stocks and reallocating a portion of portfolio holdings into them as a start.

For example, you might take 5% from conventional investments and purchase shares in a top rated ESG fund like Parnassus Endeavor.

This gets your finances supporting businesses addressing social/environmental issues you care about. Over time you can increase your allocation percentage as confidence with responsible investing strategies builds through their continued outperformance.


We’ve covered how leading funds allow combining ethics with earnings through easy on-ramps like screened index ETFs or proactive shareholder engagement funds.

I encourage everyone to start aligning finances with values using the resources here. Together we can catalyze positive impact at scale while generating sustainable wealth for all.