Conscious Investing: The New Wave in Money and Values

Ethical Markets SRI/ESG News

By Corinne McLaughlin

Would you like to integrate your deepest spiritual values with your money?  Did you know there’s a whole new movement emerging around the country to make finance and investing more spiritually conscious?  Called conscious investing, conscious capital, and/or conscious money, this new approach builds on the Social Investment movement by focusing on spiritual and psychological dimensions more directly.

I recently attended an invitational meeting on conscious investing in northern California which was organized by a team including Susan Davis, founder of Capital Missions ( and founder of the Investors Circle, the Solar Circle and six other networks in social investing.  The purpose of the meeting was to help manifest an industry of conscious investing and transformational finance. Participants included private investors, fund managers, investment managers, philanthropists, and representatives from the green economy, microfinance, “for benefit” corporations and conscious media.

The meeting was based on the KINS Innovation Networks model, a collaborative and synergistic group process for forming deep connections among diverse participants which leads to magical breakthroughs by focusing on the higher purpose of the group and allowing intuition and Spirit to guide the process.  The work of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (now ICRL) shows that “anomalies” (or “miracles”) can be produced in groups with high emotional resonance and profound personal involvement.  As Einstein famously said, you can’t solve a problem from the same consciousness that created the problem.  We have to go to a higher consciousness, a spiritual field, to solve our financial problems today.

Pioneering economist Hazel Henderson ( gave a live interactive talk to our group noting that “real wealth is in the networks.”  Focusing on investment as relationship is a paradigm shift from the old way of building organizations. An investment manager in the group described what we are doing as “asset quilting”—quilting or weaving our combined assets—financial, intellectual, and creative – with qualities of the heart. Our combined experiences, expertise and skills create a synergistic system which nurtures a powerful outcome.

Various group members emphasized the importance of making finance more ethical, or, as The Pachamama Alliance says, “socially just, environmentally sustainable, and spiritually fulfilling.”  Some members noted that investing that is based on biomimicry principles is more productive, enduring and fulfilling.  Biomimicry observes how nature works and designs human works to mimic that.

A key theme in our meeting was bringing together Spirit and matter—our values and our money—rather than seeing these as two different realms. To me, our work is about seeing money as a spiritual asset, not just a material asset, and this is something I like to teach in my workshops. Some members of our group noted the key role of psychological insights and tools in helping people transform old attitudes around money—especially to stop the bull/bear cycles of greed/fear.  In small groups, we shared experiences and techniques we’ve each used to help transform our own money issues. We redefined abundance as not just money, but also love and healthy relationships.

Conscious investing builds on the work of Social Responsible Investing (SRI), which my husband, Gordon Davidson, and others helped found 25 years ago. It has become a $3.7 trillion industry, growing 40% faster than the overall fund universe.  Many were skeptical until they saw the stellar financial performance of socially responsible companies. SRI includes four strategies:  screening, shareholder advocacy, community investing, and socially responsible venture capital.

Social screening subjects stocks to a set of “screens” or criteria, asking, for example, “Does the company pollute the environment, violate fair labor practices, promote women and minorities, support local communities, exemplify integrity in advertising?” Some of the leading mutual funds, which have been pioneers in the field for over a decade,  are the Calvert Funds, Pax World Fund, Parnassus Funds, RSF Social Finance, and Domini Social Funds.

The new conscious investing movement embraces all of the above strategies, but adds another dimension:  the profound, catalyzing role of intuition and Spirit in deeply connected groups.  As Patricia Aburdene, a participant in our meeting, notes in her book, Conscious Money, conscious investing is created from the inside out–it is anchored in what really matters to you—it is grounded in meaning.

Corinne McLaughlin is director of The Center for Visionary Leadership and co-author of The Practical Visionary (; ) and Spiritual Politics. She can be reached at [email protected].