If you’re like many Americans, you cast your vote on November 8 for the candidates of your choice. And no matter if your candidates won or lost, you have to appreciate the fact that we live in a democracy where we all have the right to vote.
A presidential election gives you an opportunity to make a difference with your vote one time every four years. But once you cast your vote, you’ve done your civic duty and there’s nothing more you can do, right?
While that may be somewhat true in politics, in the world of business and investing, you’re casting votes every single day. Every dollar that you spend or invest is a “vote” for a particular product or service from a company, and as much as I dislike this idiom, money talks (in politics and business).
What is Your Money Saying?
When you spend a dollar (or five) on a Starbucks cappuccino, you’re voting for that drink and telling Starbucks that you want them to continue to offer that product. Your vote matters to Starbucks because they want to continue to offer products that you like so that you’ll keep buying.
Similarly, if you buy stock in Starbucks, you’re voting for the company as a whole. If you’re a stockholder, you’re a fractional owner of the business, and as an owner, you have given Starbucks your stamp of approval for all of its business practices.
Your vote matters because the executives and managers of any corporation answer to stockholders. If the executives at Starbucks are not acting as stockholders would like, the holders simply sell the stock, sending the price down along with the executives’ compensation.
Making a Difference
Whether you’re a consumer or an investor, your vote matters to corporations.
What if, as Christians, we started “voting” with our dollars? What if all Christians woke up to the fact that companies engage in harmful business activities because we’ve approved of these activities through our purchases and investments?
In my opinion, if Christians prayerfully consider what we're supporting through our investments, it would do more to bring about flourishing in our society than any political agenda. In fact, I’m convinced that business (not politics) will be the source of the next spiritual revival in the US.
This is why I’m so passionate about Biblically Responsible Investing. It’s a way for believers to put our money where our mouth is. Through BRI we can make our votes count, and once we reach a critical mass, corporations will start listening.
“Among themselves the merchants have a common rule which is their chief maxim…I care nothing about my neighbor; so long as I have my profit and satisfy my greed, of what concern is it to me if it injures my neighbor in ten ways at once? There you see how shamelessly this maxim flies in the face not only of Christian love but also of natural law.” –Martin Luther
Martin Luther said these words in 1524, but how true they are today! Many corporations still seek to maximize profits with no regard for their neighbor. Moreover, this behavior will continue as long as we sit idly by and give our stamp of approval by owning these types of companies in our investment portfolios.
If every Christian in America “voted” their values with their dollars, we might actually see real change in this country.
Ben Malick, CFA, CKA
*Although Starbucks is mentioned in this post, we do not own Starbucks in any portfolios and do not plan to initiate a position as the company does not pass our biblical screens.