Financial activism is a relatively new concept gaining traction around the world in both the mainstream and financial world. It is an effective way to challenge traditional economic policymaking methods and ensure that all members of society benefit from them. But what does that look like and who gets to be a financial activist?
What is financial activism?
Financial activism uses economic strategies to bring about social, economic, and political change. In other words, it’s making a change by utilizing the power of your money, whether that be in the things you buy, where you keep your money, or what you invest in. It is intentional and impactful behavior. Whether you’re shifting $1, $100, or $1,000, every dollar casts a vote into the world about the kind of future you want.
What do financial activists do?
Financial activists have various tactics to achieve their goals, including lobbying, campaigning and boycotting. For example, financial activists can go big and pressure governments to increase welfare spending or reduce the burden of taxation on those living in poverty. Or, like Rainforest Action Network, Tobacco-Free Portfolios, and other similar organizations, they may call for stricter regulations on banks and financial institutions or greater transparency in their practices.
Financial activists can also use their economic power to influence companies and organizations. For example, they may invest in companies that are socially responsible or boycott companies that are deemed to be unethical. They may also use their financial resources to support causes that align with their values.
Is financial activism successful?
Much of the success of financial activism often goes underreported (of course, corporations and decision-makers don’t want us to know it works!!). Some high-profile examples that snuck through to the media include:
- Climate activists getting board seats on Exxon Mobil
- BT workers strike in the UK resulting in pay rise
- Climate marches that brought together over 6 million people around the globe in September 2019
Financial activism in the form of strikes has been the drive for many rights we take for granted today – women’s suffrage and the right to vote, the Stonewall riots and LGBTQ+ rights, miners’ strikes and labor unions. Of course, strikes and marches are not the only way, and as we build a more financially literate generation of investors, more tools become available to the everyday activist. The more people realize the power their dollars hold, the more successful financial activism can be!
Who can be a financial activist?
You can be a financial activist if you earn, spend, and save money. If you exist in a society with an economy, then you can be a financial activist. You can be a financial activist if you pay taxes or receive benefits from tax-funded social schemes. Basically, anyone can use their dollars to make a difference or hold the dollars of others accountable.
Actions can take a variety of scales.
- Opting for brands that use cardboard packaging over plastic packaging
- Engaging in shareholder advocacy to vote for changes within companies you’re invested in
For a full rundown of all the ways you can be a financial activist, see our article 10 Tools of Financial Activism.
Financial activism can be a powerful tool for social change. FLIT Invest is a platform where you can make a difference with your money and engage in financial activism with the click of a button. Whether divestment or active ownership, investing in Green Energy, or Gender Equality, everyone in the FLIT Invest community is an activist by proxy. Impact investing is the future, so join the movement and make a difference!
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