How Far You Can Go to Boycott an Industry

When citizens feel that government isn't hearing their voices, they tend to take their fights to businesses.

The latest example is the swift-moving boycott against the National Rifle Association and its corporate partners, spurred by anger about the recent mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Already, high-profile companies like Hertz, Delta, and Best Western have announced that they've severed ties with the NRA, after long offering members discounts and special services. Pressure is building for tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Apple to stop hosting NRA material and media online.

Some boycotts are easier to enact than others. One of the more clearly delineated ways you can signal your displeasure with a company or a sector is to divest your wealth management. It may take some digging to figure out how much of a mutual fund or a 401(k) is tied up with gun manufacture or lobbying, but a financial adviser should be able to help you sort it out. Big-name investors like Warren Buffett may not consider it their place to legislate their political beliefs through their investments, but that doesn't have to stop individuals.

If you do plan on boycotting a particular company, organization, or industry, it helps to let that target know why you've pulled your money. This might mean using a hashtag on social media, or it might be directing your money manager to make a note with your instructions. It's important to remember that not every boycott can be perfect — Amazon Web Services hosts a huge part of the internet, for instance, which makes it hard to avoid. But being visible about your choice, even if it's just to the company you're targeting, can be a powerful statement about putting your money where your mouth is.