Additionally, a survey done earlier this year by Calvert Investments, which offers a full menu of SRI mutual funds, shows that most 401(k) participants want SRI options.
Of the more than 1,200 401(k) plan participants and 300 eligible nonparticipants surveyed, 87 percent want investment options that align with their values and 82 percent would likely choose such an option if offered. Also, 55 percent of the nonparticipants said they'd be more likely to participate in their workplace plan if it offered an SRI option.
There are different terms used in the industry for socially responsible investments. The Labor Department calls them economically targeted investments, while some people talk about environmental, social and governance strategies. Regardless of the term, their commonality is an investment approach that examines a company's social or environmental practices instead of looking exclusively at its financial performance.
The recent Labor Department guidance, issued in October, overrides 2008 guidance that said such investing in 401(k) plans and the like should be "rare."