Prison industrial complex
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52% of plan assets are invested in the default option, the Vanguard Target Retirement Funds series.
Most employer-offered retirement plans have what's called a Qualified Default Investment Alternative. When you sign up for the plan, your savings are put in a default investment, and most plan participants never switch. For many plans, that default investment is a series of target date funds, broadly diversified investments that offer different "target dates" for investors in different age brackets. These target date funds mostly invest in index funds that are not sustainably invested. For the plan scorecard above, we use the 2050 target date as the representative of the fund series.
This retirement plan has millions of dollars invested in fossil fuels, deforestation-risk agribusiness, and arms manufacturers.
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The figures in this chart and the tables below are calculated by cross-referencing annual data on plan investments for 2020, from Form 5500 data filed 10/08/2021, and monthly data on mutual fund holdings from May 2022. The results represent a best-faith effort to measure plan participant exposure to various environmental and social risk screens using the most recent data available. The actual amount invested by the plan may be higher today as employees have made further contributions since 2020. These results represent stock investments within the plan's target date and equity funds, and do not capture any risky investments in other fund types or through a self-directed option. Read our full methodology here.
1.99% of plan assets are invested in sustainable options.
While many people stick with the default option, 401(k)s and other employer-offered retirement plans usually have a line-up of additional investment options. If this plan offers any investment options marketed as "sustainable", "socially responsible", or "ESG" (short for environment, social, and governance), we'll show the scorecard results below.
Want more sustainable options in your 401(k) plan?
Learn how to work with your employer to ensure your retirement plan is sustainably invested.