To effectively advocate for new offerings through your employer-sponsored plan, first build a coalition of peers and interested co-workers inside your company. Your voice will be much stronger as a group. If you’re writing to someone in power, advocating on behalf of 10 or even 20 people carries a lot more weight than just one. One way to spur interest would be sharing the results from your Weapon Free Funds search among fellow employees. All plan participants are offered the same basket of mutual funds as you are, so they are probably asking the same questions right now.
Some companies have “corporate responsibility teams”. If there isn’t one already, it may be time to create one for weapon free investing. Communicate with your co-workers through a company intranet, employee portal, a company newsletter, corporate chats, or social media.
The 401(k)/403(b) plan administrator, manager, or coordinator should be known if you are a plan participant, and that’s where to start. There could also be a chief corporate responsibility officer or employee engagement manager, and those could be good resources. An effective method is to go to the LinkedIn pages of those people and find who might have some sympathy for the cause. Do any of them volunteer or have connections with anti-militarism or gun violence organizations? Look for indicators that they’re friendly to corporate responsibility and start contacting them in order of their friendliness. In a publicly listed company with more structure, a coalition is vital to signal to managers that it’s an important issue for many employees. If it’s a smaller company, the CFO or CEO could be approached directly. In a mid-size or family company, a family member could be more influential.
The usual starting point in these conversations is: “We want to reduce the future risk of our 401(k) fund choices. We also want to invest in a peaceful future. How can we enhance our 401(k) choices to do so?” Getting new fund choices added to the list of the existing plan options is a formal process, and could take up to a year to be added. Larger companies often have some form of investment committee, which engages an investment advisor. There may be some funds in your plan that you see contain only one weapon company. You could ask the plan administrator to call the fund manager and say, “Is there a substitute for this one company? If you made one change you would be weapon free!”
If the investment advisor and plan administrator refuse to help in swapping out some weapon-heavy funds for some weapon free funds, you may need to get fellow employees to sign a petition requesting the change and send it to the investment committee. If you are told, “But you’ll make less money if you’re not invested in weapons,” you can say, “Actually, weapons are a risky investment. We want to diversify, and be part of building a less violent future.”