The point in investing money into a company is ultimately to make money yourself. If the company makes money, so do you. This is how investing works. However, investing in a company also gives the company more working capital allowing them to create money for their company as well as their investors. That being said, you are helping the company when you invest in them and every company has an impact on society & culture.
While many people are only interested in the bottom line, more and more individuals are choosing to invest ethically. This means that they are choosing to invest in companies who are not only doing well financially, but doing so in an ethical manner. You see, by aiding companies who act unethically we are creating a society & culture in which unethical companies prosper.
The hard part about investing ethically is that everyone's idea of ethical is different. Society & culture does not have a set of ethics that everyone follows. Another difficulty is determining which companies are acting ethically or not. You can't polygraph every CEO of every company. In fact, how much information would that give you if you did?
The first key to investing ethically is to look at the product. Though employees, business practices, and company policies may change, their products are generally going to remain similar. Products like cigarettes are considered hazardous to our society & culture and many people consider tobacco companies unethical. The ultimate decision is yours.
The next step is to keep your eyes and ears open. Many major decisions that companies make will be reported on the news. These decisions are not only helpful in deciding how they are going to fair financially, but they also show how they are affecting society & culture.
There are many resources available to help those individuals interested in investing ethically. Magazines and websites offer lists of companies to avoid and why. They also offer lists of mutual funds and list each associated company so you know exactly who you are investing in. We may not be able to change the business world by investing ethically, but at least we are not enabling the unethical.