The health, social and financial effects of the coronavirus have been devastating to individuals and communities, particularly Black and brown communities, around the globe. We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of deaths, closed businesses, and US unemployment at historically high rates. This is a watershed moment with devastation so deep and wide that words cannot do it justice.
We grieve along with the world and we also see enormous opportunity in this moment: an opportunity to see more clearly the myths under which we’ve collectively been operating, what is actually possible, and the transformative ways we can rewrite how our society and economy functions. In this dark and challenging time, we see both the dark reality around us and the brilliant possibilities for our collective future.
Below are three myths we’ve seen exposed during this crisis, and the related opportunities for a paradigm shift.
Truth: The $2.3 trillion economic stimulus rolled out by the federal reserve this month shows that money can and will be created, even “out of thin air,” if deemed necessary by the government. While this is going on in the US, countries around the world grapple with similar economic decisions. This can only mean that the idea that there isn’t enough money for everyone is untrue. The problem lies in how that money is distributed.
Why it Matters: Much of the impetus for this historic economic stimulus was because of the impact of the pandemic on publicly traded companies and the financial markets. At RISE, we understand that as investors in these companies, we have the attention of lawmakers and can leverage that power to stand with social justice movements demanding a bailout for people and small businesses that operate outside of the publicly traded financial markets.
Myth #2: The rapid pace of climate change is a foregone conclusion.
Truth: We have the power to collectively create radical positive change. The behavioral changes humans have made during this pandemic have caused a reduction in pollution visible from space. Coyotes are howling in the streets of San Francisco, and wildlife is taking over Yosemite again. Human-caused climate change is devastating to the planet, and to people, particularly poor and marginalized communities. This extraordinary event has shown us that the collective sacrifice of some of our most carbon-intensive habits can dramatically slow the pace of climate change.
Why it Matters: Now is the time for investors to take dramatic steps to impact the trajectory of climate change. This glimpse at how changing individual and corporate behavior can dramatically slow the pace of climate change should instill urgency in us all to not only change our individual behavior but to hold publicly traded companies accountable for the impact of their actions on our planet.
Myth #3: Each person is responsible for their own well-being.
Truth: We belong to each other; our health and wellness is dependent on the health and wellness of our neighbors and community members. Never has the American ideal of “rugged individualism” been so demonstrably false than this moment, when we can see that individuals’ ability to shelter in place has a direct impact on the health of themselves and their communities. This interconnectedness can be easy for the media to miss when things are going smoothly for the middle and upper classes. During a contagious health crisis, everyone is affected by our country’s lack of a social safety net. Although poor communities are more adversely affected by this crisis, wealth cannot protect individuals from the consequences of this pandemic.
Why it Matters: When we evaluate RISE investment criteria, worker wellbeing is one of the criteria we consider. During this current crisis we can see how, without paid sick leave, many workers are forced to work through illness and possibly spread this highly contagious and deadly virus in their workplace and their broader community. This isn’t good for the employees, the company, or the company’s broader stakeholders.
Many of those currently working public-facing jobs without paid sick leave, our “essential workers,” are paid a minimum wage that doesn’t cover the essential necessities of life. As we think about how to build a better world, we must start by listening to those most impacted by the flaws in our economic system. That’s why RISE collaborates with One Fair Wage, the Poor People’s Campaign, and other groups representing marginalized communities when choosing our investment criteria.
Our current economic system is built on the paradigm of extracting the most financial value from both the earth, and it’s people, with little thought to the long-term effects of these methods. This crisis highlights the opportunity to move from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. Underlying this change is an understanding of the interconnectedness of all living beings.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the stock market is a reminder to the greater financial community that a company’s environmental and social risks are also financial risks that companies need to manage, in both good and bad times. We always have our eye on this, it’s what we consider when working with our social justice partners to select RISE investment criteria, and we welcome more investors and advisors to invest with these factors top of mind.
The enormous opportunity in this moment is the ability to see what’s possible, not just in the stock market, but in building a better world for now and for generations to come. As we collectively pick up the pieces from this disaster, let’s not put them back together in the old way. We must not put up with the unjust economic system we inherited from the past; let us claim our place in making a new world.
We always have our eye on this, it’s what we consider when working with our social justice partners to select RISE investment criteria, and we welcome more investors and advisors to invest with these factors top of mind. Learn more about RISE, or invest with us!
If you missed our April Community Gathering call, you can watch the recording.
“In the long term, what is better for all of us is better for our portfolio”– Rachel J. Robasciotti
0:00- Meet the RISE Team
5:05- Hear how the mission and investment strategy of RISE affects our COVID-19 response.
9:48- How the pandemic impacts the RISE investment strategy. Does this change a ‘stay the course’ philosophy?
15:00- Where to learn more about a “restorative” model of investing and how it impacts the work at RISE.
23:03- How the pandemic affects portfolios that invest with social justice values.
32:16- How a global crisis, and the communal impact, reveals our interconnectivity.
34:50- Resources and advice for how grassroots organizations can seek funding opportunities and aid.