Ethical Investment Policy
Queen Margaret University - Ethical Investment Policy
As Charity Trustees, under common law, the Court of Queen Margaret University is obliged when making investments to put the interests of the University first rather than members’ own principles, opinions, interests or views. Normally, the interests of the charity are best served by maximising the financial return from investment, consistent with prudence.
Without evidence to the contrary, it may be a breach of trust to fetter discretion by excluding a certain investment or investments on social or political grounds. However, Trustees are also under a duty to exclude investments which conflict with the objects of the charity, whether or not this is likely to result in significant detriment to the charity. Trustees may also exclude investments whose inclusion would inhibit the charitable purposes of the charity. In the case of Queen Margaret University, such effects might include deterring potential students from undertaking their studies, or alienation of current or potential financial supporters.
In the light of the above considerations, Queen Margaret University would therefore wish to engage in Socially Responsible Investment (SRI). Such policy is determined by the belief that, in order to achieve long-term success, organisations need not only to conceive and implement appropriate business strategies, but also need to maintain high standards of corporate governance and corporate responsibility.
In order to meet these expectations, Queen Margaret University will restrict its investment policy by excluding those companies that persist in producing products that have consistently harmful effects upon the world, or generate earnings from undesirable areas.
In making judgements as to future investments, the University would not generally wish to be proscriptive. Rather, it would wish to work with its Investment Fund Manager, in the manner described above, requiring them to consider social responsibility parameters before making any investment.
Notwithstanding this, the University Court has taken the decision that there should be no direct investment in companies which are involved in the tobacco and armaments trade, nor in companies involved in the extraction or production of oil, gas and other fossil fuels.
In making judgements as to the suitability of companies to receive investment, it is expected that the Investment Fund Manager will make use of all available advice, including ethical screening services.
In the event that the Investment Fund Manager proposes actions (i.e. investment or disinvestment) that raise SRI issues, a small portfolio of options (judged to be equally suitable) will be brought to a group comprising the University Secretary, the Deputy Principal and the Director of Operations & Finance. This group will then make recommendations to the Principal and Vice-Chancellor for a decision which will then be reported to the Finance & Estates Committee at its next meeting.