I think its not only possible, but should be our normal practice especially given the proliferation of information channels and providers that are now available in this field: for example, I hold a (very) small pension in a fund which only invests in companies that meet certain ethical criteria, my savings are held in co-op bank account - I know that I'm perhaps not making the best return on these, but I'm happy to reconcile that because of the values I hold.
but I also go further than just investments - all household procuring is made using the same vales-based lens: our energy comes from ebico, the only ethically based utilities supplier in the UK; telecoms via the phone co-op and so on. And in my professional practice I also undertake and publish an annual 'social accounts statement' which includes details of how much of my supply chain has been with local firms and how much with social enterprises and co-ops.
interestingly, this issue of values and ethics beuing used to based investment decisions on is also not perhaps as 'clean cut' as it might first seem - I blogged a while back about how pornography is deemd to be more ethical than tobacco by fund managers...http://bit.ly/a6g7zJ
I work primarily in enterprise development (in the broadest and most liberal senses of the phrase as you'll see from the portfolio on my website);
ironically, although my publicly holding myself to account over how my values and ethics inform my business practrices has attracted interest from various quarters (and other countries), its never helped me win work or been of interest to any of my clients to date...
hi Pascale - yes, I regularly present my 'accounts statment' to clients when pitching for work as well as where I know it will be of releveance due to their specific interests;
sadly, even though a lot of my work is with social enterprises and the regional and national bodies and programmes that represent them, and agencies seeking to strengthen local economies - they're not that bothered... which is odd given the public messages that they put out about themselves.
perhaps its still too 'early days' for this type of thing and procurment habits are just not there yet? or perhaps ist because work is being commissioned increasingly against the service to be delivered rather than the overall standing and profile of the agency delivering it?
In response to your original question - technology will enable this to happen. Already new start-ups are 'crowd-sourcing' investors through Twitter rather than traditional venture capital or business angel networks.
To invest in well established or even listed companies that resonate with your own values will require much greater transparency around a whole range of criteria than we currently have.
My personal interest is in the investment marketplace recognising performance in delivering social and environmental value, but to do so will require the development and adoption of 'industry standard' metrics in the same way as we currently have accounting standards for measuring and comparing companies' financial performance.
If shareholder value became more widely defined as delivering social and environmental returns alongside economic returns, then it would begin to drive much more radical behaviour throughout businesses.
In response to your developing discussion, my own business experience (as a major provider of outsourced services to public and private sector) is that the greatest recognition of our own investment in social and environmental value creation comes from our corporate clients who are looking for a value match from their 'supply partner'. The public sector, with notable exceptions, is still looking for lowest price from a contractor.