Socially responsible funds are offered in 19 percent of defined-contribution plans, according to a survey conducted by Mercer Investment Consulting for the Social Investment Forum. In addition, 41 percent of defined-contribution plan sponsors without socially responsible investing (SRI) options expect to offer them within three years.
Dave Stangis, director of corporate responsibility at Intel Corp., who participated in a recent teleconference on the survey, said Intel has offered two SRI funds in its 401(k) plan since 2000, a Calvert Social Equity and Calvert fixed-income fund. The two funds have $2 million and $6 million, respectively, of the plan’s $3.7 billion in assets. Stangis said Intel evaluates the SRI funds the same way it evaluates its other 68 investment options, including factors such as low cost and performance.
Craig Metrick, a consultant with Mercer Investment Consulting U.S., said a substantial amount of evidence from legal experts and regulators indicates that SRI funds are not in conflict with any fiduciary duty if put through the same due diligence as other funds.
Of 129 plan officials who responded to the survey, 50 percent were with publicly traded corporations; 23 percent, privately held companies; 7 percent, government; 10 percent, health care organizations; and 10 percent, other types of organizations, according to the report based on the survey.
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