How to ask your company to consider a climate-safe retirement fund

Is your 401K funding the climate crisis? Here’s how to switch to a climate-safe plan.

Annie Sartor
April 6, 2022
A group of people sitting at a boardroom table

Congratulations! You’ve decided to advocate for climate-safe retirement options at your company. It’s time to engage your company leadership to change their workplace retirement plans to offer default climate-friendly products. Here’s how to get started: 

Identify the decision maker

First, you’ll need to identify the person in charge of administering your company’s retirement plan. If it is not clear who oversees retirement plan administration, contact the Head of Human Resources (HR) or the Chief Sustainability Officer to identify the appropriate decision maker.

Request a meeting 

Now that you’ve identified your retirement plan administrator, the next step is to set up a meeting with them to discuss your concerns. 

Here is a template email to get you started:

To {Retirement Plan Administrator’s Name},

We are writing as {COMPANY NAME} employees, who are concerned that our current retirement plan is contributing to the climate crisis, putting our retirement assets at
risk, and does not reflect {COMPANY NAME’s} values and climate commitments. We’d like to meet to discuss our concerns and potential solutions.

Make your Ask

When you sit down with your company’s plan administrator, request that they offer a climate-safe 401(k) or 403(b) retirement option as the default for employees. Your company’s plan administrator can do this by asking for such an option to the company’s current retirement fund asset manager. 

Your company’s plan administrator may need help in initial conversations with the company’s retirement fund asset manager; you could make things easier by providing this email template for your company’s plan administrator to send to their asset manager: 

To {Plan Administrator Name},

{COMPANY NAME} currently offers {Name of retirement product} to our {Number ofEmployees} as the default investment option for retirement. We are concerned that this retirement product is funding the climate crisis, and does not reflect {COMPANY NAME’s} values. {COMPANY NAME’s} plan is up for renegotiation in {DATE} and I’d like to discuss alternative products that exclude investments in fossil fuels, deforestation, and other high-emitting sectors that {COMPANY NAME’s} can provide as a default option for employees. 

Follow up

Great work! You made your ask, and your company’s plan administrator has started the process of working with the company’s asset manager to provide a climate-safe retirement option for employees. You will need to follow up with your plan administrator to ensure that they follow through with your ask, and to work with them to address any questions that may arise in the process. 

Interested in more information and advice on how you can talk to your company's CEO and key stakeholders about making climate-friendly changes within the workplace? Subscribe to WorkForClimate now.

Feature photo by Christina - WOC in Tech Chat - via Unsplash.

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