Most of Australia’s 200 super funds have failed this crucial test, with calls for a closer look at where the sector’s $3 trillion in money goes.
Shocking data has revealed that 90% of Australian super funds have no public policy that prevents members’ money from being invested in animal cruelty, prompting some young Australians to leave their funds.
World Animal Protection assessed 200 of Australia’s major superannuation funds and found that only 16 currently had animal welfare policies.
In a survey, it found animal cruelty topped the list of areas where investors don’t want their money spent, followed closely by human rights abuses.
Yet most Australians do not know what industries their super is invested in, although the majority said they would switch funds if they knew their super was funding cruel industries such as factory farming, export live animals or cosmetic testing on animals.
Gen Z and Millennials were the most disconnected generations from their super, with almost halfway no idea where their money was being invested.
Of those surveyed, 45% would feel angry if they found out their super fund invests in industries that participate in animal cruelty and a quarter would feel cheated.
For Gen Z specifically, 72% said they would change if their super fund invested in animal cruelty.
Jay Clayton is a young Australian who dug and didn’t like what he found.
He said he was automatically enrolled in his super fund when he started his first job at McDonalds and hadn’t paid much attention to it for the past six years.
But then the 23-year-old wanted to know more to make sure the investments matched his personal values.
“All the information they provided on where to invest seemed very broad and generic and that’s the same for all the popular mainstream super funds,” he told news.com.au.
“But once I looked at the ethical options, they made it clear where the investments were going and how cruelty-free they were.”
The website designer said industrial farming in particular did not suit him and he was delighted to have moved to a new fund just three weeks ago.
The Brisbane man wonders why people aren’t more engaged on the issue, but thinks the younger generation will push for change in this area given the importance they place on the environment and treatment animals.
“A lot of young people in their 20s and 30s say they care a lot about these issues and thought they were investing in a super that fits those values, but few people take steps to research them,” he said. -he declares.
“I think it’s definitely going to grow and become more mainstream to go with ethical super funds.”
Ben Pearson, acting national director of World Animal Protection, said the reality for most Australians is that their super could fund some of the cruelest industries like intensive factory farming, export of live animals and cosmetic tests on animals, without their knowledge.
“Billions of animals suffer every year because of the very industries the average person’s super might invest in,” he said.
“We know most people don’t want their animal cruelty superfunding, and it’s time for the industry to align its policies with the expectations of the Australian public,” he said.
“We are calling on Australians to hold their super funds accountable and start by asking their super funds about their animal welfare policy. If they don’t, ask them why.
Australia’s super industry manages more than $3 trillion in assets and is increasingly looking to invest in agricultural industries, so shining a light on the investment practices of super funds is essential, Mr Pearson said.
“Where our super is invested ultimately shapes the future not just of animals, but also of people and the future of our planet,” he said.
A study by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia found that funds that take an ethical and responsible approach have outperformed their peers over one, three, five and 10 years.