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The History of Ethical Investing

There is a long historical tradition of ethical investing. Investors of various faiths including Islam, Judaism and Christianity have traditionally avoided investments in undertakings that conflicted with their religious beliefs, such as the production of alcohol or tobacco and weapons production.

Socially responsible investing in its modern form originated in the 1960s and 1970s, driven by a growth in awareness and concern about various social and environmental issues, including the anti-nuclear movement and civil rights.  However, it got off to a slow start, particularly in Canada where its early growth was hampered by a number of media scandals which queried the integrity of some ethical funds.  During the 1980s and early 1990s socially responsible investing remained a small niche market, even among investors such as churches, charities and labour unions.

Up until the mid-1990s, negative screening was the most common ethical investment strategy, with investors avoiding companies with interests in South Africa during its apartheid years, for example.  The Pax World Fund, commonly regarded as the first ethical mutual fund, was established in at the height of the Vietnam War in 1971 as an alternative investment strategy for those investors who were opposed to weapons production.  It included only those companies who had no involvement in the production of military arms.

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Canada Remembers  9.11. 2001

9.11. 2001

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The History of Ethical Investing

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