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Interest grows in socially responsible investing

November 27, 2002
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A Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the Calvert Group shows investor interest in socially responsible investment (SRI) issues and strategies is growing.

Respondents express keen interest in incorporating SRI into their retirement plans. Only about one-third (32 percent) of investors with employer-sponsored retirement plans say that their plan offers an SRI option, while more than two-thirds (68 percent) of investors with such an option choose it.

Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents whose companies do not offer an SRI option for their retirement plan said they would invest in one if their company's plan offered it.

Community involvement and environmental responsibility are the two top issues that concern investors interested in SRI. Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of respondents say they would be more likely to buy a mutual fund that invests in companies that are involved in the community. More than two-thirds of the respondents (67 percent) say they want to invest in companies that do not harm the environment.

Harris used the random-digit dialing (RRD) technique that reaches listed and unlisted telephone numbers with equal probability. Harris conducted 800 telephone interviews with primary or shared decision-makers about their financial investments. It screened respondents to ensure that they owned at least one stock or bond fund and have purchased mutual funds outside of their employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Only 41 percent of those polled were aware that SRI mutual funds exist. Of those investors, only 25 percent actually invest in at least one SRI mutual fund. These findings suggest a clear potential for SRI market growth, especially since these investors expressed interest in SRI-related issues such as disclosure, corporate community involvement and environmental responsibility.

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