Green your company's 401(k)

401(k)s can be confusing. Here's our step-by-step guide on how to add a climate-friendly option to your 401(k) plan

The process for adding a new fund to a 401(k) plan can vary depending on company size. If you're a leader at a small company, you may be able to email your 401(k) provider directly and ask them to add SPFFX to your lineup. If you're at a bigger company, there may be a more formal process to follow.

Most mid-size and large companies have a 401(k) committee that is made up of the company’s head of benefits, the head of human resources, the head of finance, and an external 401(k) advisor. 401(k) advisors are just like financial advisors, but they specialize in advising companies on what funds to put in their 401(k) lineups. The 401(k) advisor typically leads quarterly committee meetings, where they discuss whether to make any changes to the plan. If this sounds like your company, a good place to start is to email your HR manager - check out our example email to HR below.

A smaller company may not have its own 401(k) committee, but instead outsource some part of what is known as its Fiduciary Duty to an external company. That company has its own 401(k) committee that acts on your company's behalf. In that case, the outsourced company likely follows a similar process to what a bigger firm would follow in-house. Asking that outsourced committee to add SPFFX to its lineup can have a big impact in that it can make climate-friendly investing available not only to you and your colleagues, but to every employee of every company that uses that firm for its 401(k). Check out our example email to 401(k) providers below.

The 401(k) fund lineup decision-making process

The 401(k) Committee meets quarterly

Participants typically include the company’s head of benefits, the head of human resources, the head of finance, and an external 401(k) advisor.

The Committee discusses whether to make changes

The external 401(k) advisor typically runs the meeting, flagging funds that have underperformed compared to their peer group and recommending alternatives.

The Committee discusses employee requests

The head of benefits typically informs the 401(k) advisor ahead of the meeting if employees have been asking for specific options in their 401(k), and the advisor comes prepared to discuss the requests.

The 401(k) advisor presents several fund options

The 401(k) advisor typically analyses the appropriateness of new funds for the lineup by looking at fund’s performance and fees compared to its peer group, and factors like who manages the fund.

The Committee decides

The committee then discusses what the 401(k) advisor has presented, typically keeping in mind a document they’ve created called the Investment Policy Statement, and decide what funds to add and remove from the lineup.

Employees are notified

Disclosures are sent to employees about the new funds that are being added, and 30 days later the new funds are added.

401(k) decision makers

Chief Financial Officer
Head of HR
Benefits Manager
External 401(k) Advisor

If you are interested in getting a climate-friendly investment option into your company’s 401(k) plan, these may be the people to talk to about your company’s process for adding new funds to the lineup and how to file a request for a new investment option.

What you can do now

We have made a few tools to help you take the next step in getting a climate-friendly investment option onto your 401(k) menu. Are you a key decision-maker at your company? Check out our guide on how to email your 401(k) provider about adding a climate-friendly option to your plan. Are you an employee at a big company? You might find our example email to HR helpful.

There's more than


is invested in fossil fuels just through 401(k)s.

Getting your company’s 401(k) on board can mean moving millions or even billions of dollars into climate-friendly funds.

How is this possible?

Email your 401(k) provider

We know it’s not easy to offer a climate-friendly investment option to employees. We’ve been there. That’s why we’ve created this email template to make it as easy as possible for you to email your current 401(k) provider and ask them to add SPFFX to your company’s fund lineup. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions, especially after you’ve submitted the request. If you’re not sure how to reply to a response, email us at

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Email your HR

Your Human Resources manager is one of the key influencers for which 401(k) options are available to you. They are typically the key liaison between the company and an external 401(k) advisor to the company. That advisor often convenes a meeting of the company’s 401(k) committee each quarter, and the head of HR and the advisor typically coordinate on topics to cover ahead of that meeting. Get the ball rolling by emailing them now.

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Get on our newsletter

We send updates occasionally with the latest actions of the AtmoSphere and updates on the cause.

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Rally your coworkers

Companies listen to their employees. If enough speak up wanting a change, it will happen. We'll be creating an activist kit to help you in your efforts.

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Share on Social

If you’re active on social media, you can help spread the word on how to take real action on climate change while protecting your retirement savings. Check out our posts on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest on climate-friendly investing in 401(k)s and 403(b)s.

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Research your options

Explore how much you've invested in fossil fuel companies at Fossil Free Funds, where you can look up any ETF or mutual fund and see how it's invested.

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Join the AtmoSphere

Join our network of game-changers employed at big companies, working from within to get a fossil-free option. We're currently building the tools for the AtmoSphere.

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