International Day for the Eradication of Poverty: A guide for investors
Thursday, October 17, 2019
October 2019
A more in depth exploration of key sustainability topics
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty: A guide for investors

The United Nations designated October 17th as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This date is an opportunity for people of various backgrounds, beliefs, and financial means to acknowledge the challenges for people living in poverty and to act on their commitment to eradicating its painful realities.

In recent years, it’s become apparent that investors are increasingly keen to effect meaningful change and advance such causes by aligning their portfolio with their values. As an advisor, you should be well positioned to help your clients gain a greater understanding of the issues they care about most—it may help to deepen your existing relationships and attract new business.

In honor of this year’s observance, we’re encouraging investors to consider poverty holistically, as more than strictly an economic issue. Poverty is in part so devastating due to the various social factors that reinforce economic hardship, such as access to safe and healthy living conditions. Some investors may seek to reduce portfolio exposure to companies that perpetuate poverty and, as their advisor, you may be expected to provide guidance as to how best this can be accomplished. In this instance, consider discussing with them the following three corporate practices:

Exploitative Products

Companies perpetuate poverty by exploiting addiction, lack of information, or limited access to alternative products. Companies whose businesses rely on products and services such as tobacco, predatory lending, and gambling fall into this category.


Companies that inadequately manage their toxic waste and air pollution pose negative health and environmental risks in their neighborhoods. Hazardous waste disproportionately affects lower-income communities, creating dire health—and financial—consequences.

Workplace Discrimination

Companies with poor diversity practices reinforce existing inequalities. Workplace discrimination worsens pay disparities among diverse employees.


These categories are just a few of the many ways in which poverty is reinforced by companies’ social, environmental, and governance practices. Making the connection between corporate behavior and destitution, and redirecting capital away from corporate behaviors that perpetuate inequality are tangible ways investors can use assets to end poverty in all its forms.

Sources and footnotes

Travis Korte is the associate director of Sustainability Research & Data at Ethic. Previously, Travis organized civic-minded technologists at Hack for LA and advised a wide range of clients on data science, data policy, and quantitative methods. You can follow him on Twitter at @traviskorte.

Jay Lipman, a co-founder of Ethic, is driven by the need to address climate and environmental risks with the resources to which we each have unique access. He has been ranked among the Forbes 30 Under 30: Social Entrepreneurs.

Melissa Mittelman creates content at Ethic and is an alumna of Bloomberg News, where she covered private equity & deals. Melissa previously worked at Deutsche Bank, providing institutional, cross-asset sales coverage for ultra-high-net-worth investors.