Quaker investments are held at both national and regional level. Many Area Meetings (regional collections of Quaker Meetings) hold investments in their own right. Investments are also held by Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) – the organisation of Quakers in England, Scotland and Wales – and by Ireland Yearly Meeting, which covers Quakers in both parts of Ireland.
BYM’s investments are managed by Rathbone Greenbank. BYM’s investment policy states it will “normally” rule out investments with any involvement in activities about which it is “very concerned”. These include arms, gambling, GM crops, poor employment practices and pornography. There are other issues about which the denomination is “concerned”, which generally leads to the exclusion only of companies with a major involvement in the activities in question. These include tobacco, alcohol and nuclear power. In 2013, Quakers became the first national church in Britain to adopt a policy of divesting from fossil fuels, following the launch of the Bright Now campaign.
The Quaker investment policy also identifies sectors in which the denomination is keen to invest for ethical reasons. These include environmental technology, transport, education, healthy food and animal welfare.
Area Meetings do not need to follow BYM’s investment policies, and some have adopted their own policies on ethical investment. In practice, many take their lead from BYM. Therefore, if you appeal to an Area Meeting to change its policy, you may in effect also be asking for a change of BYM’s policy.