Follow us:

Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 10, 2007 at 11:53 AM

How should the Gates Foundation handle investments?

The recent media coverage of Gates Foundation investments raises questions about whether assets can and should be used to encourage positive change (or at least avoid causing harm) rather than simply to make more money for its mission.

Socially responsible investing has been around for a long time, but the size of this foundation’s assets gives more it weight and influence than any other charitable organization.

But why stop there? The debate about the role of foundations could apply to any institution or individual with a significant pool of money to invest.

Let’s say you don’t like the way a company is run — should you steer clear of it entirely, or actively invest to change the company as a shareholder?

This conversation includes some interesting views from a charitable fund director and Amnesty International. Fund director Charlie Tomberg points out that buying or selling a company’s shares doesn’t have much effect on that company. Amnesty International has an arm that advocates changing companies like Dow Chemical from within by becoming a shareholder.

If the Gates Foundation pours more resources into analyzing its portfolio, will it get clear answers?

Jeff Reifman, a former Microsoft manager who advocates socially responsible investing, expressed skepticism that the Gates Foundation will break much new ground in holding corporate behavior accountable.

The issue is complicated and worth a lot more debate. Let me know what you think….

Comments | More in Public policy & issues

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►