JLens is thrilled to have Hadassah as an investor and supporter of our mission! Janice Weinman, CEO of Hadassah, spoke with Rabbi Jacob Siegel of JLens about Hadassah’s decision to invest in JLens’ Jewish Advocacy Strategy. Q. What was the motivating factor to engage in values-based investing through JLens? A. The accessibility and visibility of JLens’ strategy were appealing - and also absolutely the Jewish values focus. It was a combination of factors, both from a social consciousness perspective and from a financial perspective. Both Hadassah leadership and the organization’s investment committee came together serendipitously - that led to the move in this direction.
Q. For many institutions, incorporating values-based investing is a significant transition. What was the process at Hadassah? A. Hadassah believes very strongly in social impact investing.The issue was discussed at different decision-making tables so that each group could inform the other about their opinions. The major concern was whether or not we’d get the same return on investment. Since JLens tracks the market, people felt comfortable. Q. How can JLens’ advocacy in the economic arena complement Hadassah’s mission? A. It is very important for JLens to be a presence with corporations in terms of raising the issues of gender equity, of pay equity, of anti-BDS, of any form of discrimination. JLens can bring social values to corporations, and can use their platform to have a voice about those issues.
I think one of the things that was attractive was the fact that JLens enters into corporate arenas that not-for-profits really don’t have access to. Either at shareholder meetings or through communications with corporations, the message can be brought to the corporate community in a way that a not-for-profit can’t. Q. Statistically, women tend to be more interested in values-based investing and have been some of the early adopters. As a women’s organization, did that have any role in your adoption of values-based investing? A. I do think women tend to be more conscious about some of the humanitarian implications of investing. But our choice wasn’t based on gender preference - it was based on the values and mission of Hadassah.
Q. What advice would you offer to other Jewish institutions considering values-based investing? A. I would encourage Jewish organizations to go back to the roots of their mission and see this as a vehicle, another vehicle other than direct service, to ensure that their values are being implemented in a much broader and more universal way. I think this is a unique opportunity to broaden the impact we have. Not-for-profit entities have a responsibility to reflect Jewish values broadly speaking, and the only way to bring that into the corporate community is through a financial instrument and financial intervention. In this case, I think it’s not a matter of losing money, it’s a matter of making sure that investments are on par. I would advise other organizations to do what we did, which is to meet with our investment committee and investment managers and to explain the performance levels that JLens has; and I would advise other organizations to hear about what JLens has accomplished at shareholder meetings, how JLens applies Jewish values criteria in their investments. If Jewish organizations don’t value social consciousness they’re not meeting their mission.