Stop investing in companies tied to genocide


Vanguard should adopt a genocide-free investing policy to ensure that investments it makes are not tied to genocide.

Few of us want our personal savings connected to genocide. Even so, Vanguard, and other investment firms, invest their customers’ money in companies that help fund the ongoing genocide in Sudan.[1] PetroChina and Sinopec, for example, not only support the government of Sudan, but also Syria, Burma and Iran.

Strangely, Vanguard opposes genocide-free investing,[2] even though it is well aligned with their stated corporate values. As a signatory[3] to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, they agreed to incorporate social issues such as human rights into investment decision-making processes and “better align investors with broader objectives of society.”[4] Vanguard’s published “pledge” to clients promises to “Align our interests with our clients' interests” and “Hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethical behavior and stewardship.”[5]

Vanguard opposes genocide-free investing for all its funds, for actively managed and passive funds. Vanguard does not claim that its index funds are unable to comply. In fact, in 2009, Vanguard published that it had procedures that applied to all of its funds to consider social issues and “potential divestment” in cases of “crimes against humanity or patterns of egregious abuses of human rights.”[6] However, Vanguard took no action on its holdingsof PetroChina, stating, “The trustees have determined that no companies have warranted divestment.”[7] Shortly thereafter, Vanguard increased its holdings of PetroChina.[8]

Shareholders, customers (investors), and potential customers of Vanguard (and its mutual funds) can send a strong message to draw the line at genocide. You don’t have to be an investor, since investment firms want your business now or in the future.