On Thursday, May 15, the city of Portland got rid of $9 million, or 25 percent, of its investments in Walmart. This marks the beginning of a divestment program that will purge Portland's investment portfolio of $36 million in Walmart bonds by 2016, according to a press release. The divestment plan is part of the city's responsible investment initiative, introduced by City Commissioner Steve Novick, and adopted in October 2013. The initiative also prohibits the city from purchasing Walmart bonds in the future.
Portland is not only discontinuing its investments in Walmart, but has set up a committee to advise it on making socially responsible investments in the future. The committee will address issues like abusive labor practices, corruption, and health concerns, among other things.
During a press conference on May 15, Commissioner Novick encouraged other cities to adopt similar initiatives.
From what I can tell, no other U.S. city has looked at socially responsible investing in quite the same way as Portland. I’m hopeful other cities and states take note and adopt similar investment principles to hold companies accountable and align our investment policies with our values.
Meanwhile, the company's net income fell 5 percent, and shares fell 2 percent, in the first quarter of 2014, failing to meet Wall Street's expectations for the third time in five quarters.
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Walmart blamed its poor performance on bad weather.
Laura Garcia and Molly Rusk wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Laura is an Education Outreach Intern at YES! and a graduate of the program in Political Science and International Relations at Saint Louis University.
Molly is an online reporting intern at YES! and a recent graduate of the program in Creative Writing at the University of Washington.