More employees would participate in their companies’ retirement plans if the plans offered a socially responsible investing option, according to a survey released Friday by Calvert Investments Inc.

Bethesda, Md.-based Calvert asked 1,231 defined contribution retirement plan participants how important socially responsible investing is to them, and a majority feels strongly that it is something they want to see in their plans. This gives plan sponsors a way to attract more participants and provide a service employees want, Calvert says.

Seventy percent of respondents say supporting causes they believe in is an important part of their lives and 87 percent want investment options that align with their values.

Likewise, 82 percent of retirement plan participants are likely to select a responsible investment option if offered by their plan, with nearly one-third of those saying they would direct all of their plan contributions to responsible investment options. Investors assume that socially responsible investing will perform as well as other investments, Calvert says.

Employers have an opportunity to better serve employees by offering socially responsible investing options, and that employees who have these options available report higher satisfaction with their employer and a higher likelihood to recommend the employer to others, according to Calvert.

“These findings give a clear indication to plan sponsors that participants not only want them to offer a responsible investing option, but that by doing so, many plan participants would feel better about the plan and their employer,” says Lynne Ford, executive vice president of distribution for Calvert.