Possible SRI Option for Federal Employees

December 4, 2013 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A bill submitted to Congress would allow federal employees to make socially responsible investments (SRI) in their retirement plans.

Representative Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) introduced the Federal Employees Responsible Investment Act. The bill would direct the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to select a “corporate responsibility index” as an option for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contributions by federal employees.

This option would allow federal employees to direct retirement investments toward socially responsible corporations and away from companies with poor environmental and human rights practices. The TSP is a 401(k)-like retirement plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services.

“This legislation would allow federal employees to feel good about their investments, and would encourage companies to implement socially responsible and environmentally sustainable policies and practices,” says Langevin. “Investors are increasingly turning to socially responsible investment options because good corporate practices are often an indicator of good management, financial success and long-term stability.”

Whitehouse says the SRI option will allow federal employees to voice their views about the environment. “This legislation will allow millions of federal government employees and retirees to use the power of their individual purse to tell big polluters they can’t keep poisoning our air and water without consequences.”

The corporate responsibility index would include a broad index of stocks of companies that maintain strong corporate governance, sustainable environmental policies and practices, solid workplace relations, positive community involvement, safe products and respect for human rights around the world.

Cosponsors for the House bill are Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Michael Capuano (D-Massachusetts), Rush Holt (D-New Jersey), Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island). Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is a cosponsor for the Senate’s version of the bill.