Monday, Apr. 18, 2005

Amy Domini

She doesn't smoke, gamble or eat beef. Her parents met in an orphanage. Throw in that her grandfather worked on Wall Street, and it's not hard to figure Amy Domini's devotion to socially responsible investing. She literally wrote the book on the subject—it's called Ethical Investing—and has spurred hundreds of companies, from the Gap to Ford to Intel, to evaluate their impact on the environment and human rights. "Investors today want this information," says Domini, 55, who runs the $1.5 billion Domini Social Equity fund, one of the oldest mutual funds that stay clear of booze, butts and betting.

Domini launched her Domini 400 Social Index in 1990, highlighting companies she deems most responsible, based on what they sell and how they treat employees and deal with shareholders. A year later, she started her fund, giving a mass audience an easy way to invest like this. Since then, the assets of social-investing funds have swelled to $36 billion—more than double that of three years ago, reports fund tracker Morningstar. "This is a long-term strategy to create accountability," says Domini. Her fund has been a laggard lately, as oil and arms have been in vogue. But since inception, it has risen 9.8% a year, just shy of the 10.4% gain in the benchmark Vanguard 500 fund. For many, that's a small price to pay for trying to change the world.

From the Archive
How Green Is Your Money?: Amy Domini makes ethical investing a mass-market option