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Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility

The Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR), a subcommittee of the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, advises the Investment Committee (and, through it, the Board of Trustees) on matters of social responsibility and the Smith College endowment. Its role is to consult with the Investment Committee on social issues relevant to investing and thereby ensure the endowment continues to be invested in a manner consistent with—and supportive of—the college’s mission and values. The committee will:

  • Research, evaluate and make recommendations regarding current issues and trends related to socially responsible investing
  • Consult, as appropriate, with individuals and groups among the faculty, students and alumnae so that it can take into account the various points of view within the Smith community regarding investor responsibility
  • Review, evaluate and make recommendations regarding proxy voting principles and practices related to environmental and social responsibility and corporate governance

The ACIR holds at least one meeting per year, typically in the fall semester, at which the committee reviews its charge, sustainability reporting, proxy voting principles and the progress of various initiatives.

Principles and Guidelines

The ACIR, as part of its work, developed a set of Principles and Guidelines to be used when deliberating about socially responsible issues and requests.

  1. Alignment with Smith College’s core mission and values: This is the first and primary factor when weighing a request for socially responsible investing.
  2. Societal Significance: In the college’s strategic plan, educating students to develop solutions to complex, urgent issues is a core theme. The focus of issues under consideration must be shown to be significant to society at large and of a nature and scale to cause broad economic, environmental, health or social impact.
  3. Societal Impact: The ACIR will consider how each element of its recommendation may affect positive social change.
  4. Financial Impact: A thorough analysis of potential financial costs and impacts to the college’s endowment and operating budget will be considered with any request. The result of these analyses may often serve as a key factor behind any recommendations.
  5. Community Consensus: Requests must have demonstrated support from a broad representation of the Smith community.

Submitting a Request to the ACIR

If a Smith community member wishes to open a formal dialogue with the ACIR about a potential issue of social responsibility and its relation to the endowment, they can submit the following information and documentation to Elena Palladino, secretary of the board of trustees and staff to the ACIR at

  1. Topic Description: Include a brief overview describing the issue. The description should include the topic’s relationship to investing, how it is aligned with Smith’s core mission and values, and its societal significance and impact.
  2. Smith Community Consensus: Describe the extent of community support for the proposed recommendations. Include information about any endorsements from student, staff or faculty groups, as well as media coverage of the topic specifically in relation to Smith.
  3. Sources of Information: List the sources of information used in researching this topic. Please provide copies of documents or links to online sources.
  4. Proposed Actions: Describe the recommendation you would like the ACIR to make. Proposed recommendations may include new investments, such as impact investing, themed investing or best-in-class investing; types of divestment, such as direct or indirect holdings, specific companies and industries; other recommendations; and specific timelines.

Once the documentation is received, the ACIR, at its next scheduled meeting, will begin the following process. At all steps along the way, the committee will endeavor to keep the Smith community informed of their work:

  1. Deliberation: The ACIR will use its Principles and Guidelines when exploring the request. If the committee decides the request meets these requirements, they will begin a process of further research and reporting.
  2. Recommendations: Based on their research, the ACIR will make recommendations to the Investment Committee for potential actions. The Investment Committee will vote on these recommendations and, if accepted, will then go to the full board.
  3. Implementation: If the actions are adopted by the board, a two-year implementation phase will begin. During this time period, the ACIR will continue an open dialogue with the Smith community, share updates here and via other forums, and suggest to the Investment Committee any needed adjustments to the actions. It is unlikely, however, that a request to consider the same topic would be considered before the two-year implementation phase is complete.