If you’ve read this far, you’re aware that TIAA is using it’s participants’ retirement savings to bankroll the climate emergency. And, if you’re a TIAA participant, you’re probably wondering what you can do to make sure that your retirement account isn’t part of the problem. Here’s a breakdown of how you and your colleagues can pressure TIAA turn their responsible investing talk into reality.
Start a TIAA-Divest! group at your institution
If you’re a climate activist, or want to start organizing at your institution, TIAA-Divest! is ready to help you fight for a responsible retirement option. We’ve developed a Divestment Toolkit to show you one way that educators have successfully passed divestment resolutions. But one size doesn’t fit all. The best way to start is to find a few like-minded colleagues and start a movement! Once you’ve got your core team in place, TIAA-Divest! stands ready to support you in whatever action you think best fits your specific circumstances.
Demand clean investment options
TIAA offers literally hundreds of retirement fund options, but most educational institutions limit employee’s options to a small handful. Check your retirement fund options against the Fossil Free Funds database. If you don’t have the choice to put your retirement savings into a fund with an “A” grade in the issues that are important to you, then demand more options!
Tell TIAA that you know what they’re up to
TIAA really want to believe that they’re investing your money responsibly and the world is a better place because they’re working hard at their jobs. Just take a look at their Corporate social responsibility web page. TIAA investment managers get annoyed when their clients point out that building fracked gas power plants, buying and burning rain forest land and pumping millions of dollars into dirty oil companies is NOT socially responsible. So, spread the word! Use your social media skills to pressure TIAA to divest from fossil fuels and deforestation. Write letters to academic journals, mainstream media and your school’s newspaper. And, don’t forget to let Roger Ferguson, TIAA’s CEO know that TIAA’s greenwash isn’t fooling you!
Wait! Should I dump my TIAA retirement account?
Educators often ask TIAA-Divest! if they should replace their TIAA retirement funds with other, more responsible options. That’s a very fair question, and if you’re retired or have vested retirement funds from previous employment at a TIAA participating institution, you may very well want to investigate your socially responsible investing options. But, TIAA-Divest!’s current strategy1 is to help you leverage the investment you’ve made with TIAA to change TIAA’s behavior. TIAA has nearly a trillion dollars at its disposal, and can choose to use that incredible financial power to do good, or they can continue with business as usual. If you’re a TIAA participant, you’ll have a lot more pull with TIAA then you would as a former participant!
We understand that there are times when as a participant, you may feel that you have no choice but to move your savings and to personally divest from climate destruction. To answer that need, we asked Kathy Hipple, one of our allies at Bard College to write a guide to personal divestment.
1 We may decide to change this strategy if TIAA continues to try to justify the harms they are causing.