SGI Webinar Recording: Health

Hearing from both members and ICCR colleagues (Donna Meyer of Mercy Investment Servces and Meg Jones-Monteiro of the ICCR staff), this webinar provides tools for an understanding of our engagements in nutrition, insurance, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and opioids as well as global health issues. This webinar also proposes time efficient ways of deepening our engagement with these issues.

The article, mentioned by Donna, about the relative expenses of research and development and marketing for pharmaceutical companies can be found here or in a PDF version here.

If you have any questions from the content of the webinar, please, feel free to direct them to us at SeventhGenerationInt@gmail.com.

As always, we welcome your feedback via a confidential evaluation found here.

SGI Health Webinar on April 20

We are pleased to offer our second quarterly webinar on shareholder engagement in health. The webinar will take place on Friday, April 20th, at 10 a.m. (Central). It will last 90 minutes. We will hear from both members and ICCR colleagues who lead components of our health campaigns. This webinar will provide tools for an understanding of our engagements in nutrition, insurance, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and opioids as well as global health issues. This webinar will also propose time efficient ways of deepening our engagement with these issues.

SGI members should have received an email with the data to log on to the webinar. If for some reason you have not received it, please contact our associate director, Chris Cox, at SeventhGenerationInt@gmail.com.

ICCR and SGI: Shareholders Committed to the Rights of Immigrants

Four SGI members participated in ICCR‘s Spring Conference: Sr. Ruth Battaglia, C.S.A., Chris Cox, Frank Sherman, and Friar Robert Wotypka, O.F.M., Cap. This post from Sr. Ruth is another report of what we heard and learned at the conference.

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes has a strong connection to immigrant communities and their needs. The congregation was founded in 1885 in response to the faith needs of German immigrants in Wisconsin. When Hmong, who were allies of the United States in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and later stages of the Laotian Civil War, started seeking asylum as political refugees after the communist takeover in both nations in 1975, the Sisters of St. Agnes were instrumental in welcoming them and helping them resettle in Fond du Lac, WI. Today, sisters in Arizona provide legal aid and other forms of assistance to the immigrant population along the Naco border with Mexico. Recently the congregation has been advocating on behalf of Dreamers and for a just US immigration policy. They are pleased to join ICCR’s effort to invite companies to look at their policies and practices around immigration.

ICCR believes that just and equitable immigration policies are critical to a stable and prosperous business environment and will promote sustainable communities. At its recent conference in New York, an ICCR session was devoted to the topic of immigration. While some companies claim that immigration does not affect them, they need only look down their supply chain to discover how immigration impacts them. They also will discover that immigrants are very vulnerable to injustices.

In engagement with companies on immigration investors must ask:

  • Who is responsible for corporate risk oversight on labor/immigration issues?
  • What risks face immigrant workers? Are all workers covered by company policies on worker health and safety, fair wages, benefits? Do workers have a way to report grievances without fear of retaliation?
  • How does the company assess engagement with the community when it hires immigrant labor, addressing fears, reducing tensions? How does it relate to ICE? If the number of immigrants decline, where will the company look for qualified employees?
  • What are the company’s public policy positions on immigration? Does it publicly support comprehensive immigration reform? Is it supportive of the “Agricultural Worker Program Act” which was introduced in Congress to provide a path to lawful permanent residency for agricultural workers?

One breakout group grappled with guidelines for companies that rely on immigrants in the workforce (beauty, agriculture, textiles, farm-workers) asking them to prohibit passport retention, exactment of fees, harassment and discrimination. Also, the group suggested asking companies to provide contracts and to grant the right to assemble and to bargain collectively. Another group asked, “What is the role of investors in tech companies and airlines who are involved in immigrant surveillance?” And another dealt with the question “Who finances the harm?” Can the financial sector engage in pro-immigrant practices?

It was evident that this newer area of endeavor for ICCR, while complex and involving hard work, was well received by conference attendees ready to accept the challenge of engagement with companies on behalf of immigrants. In accord with a strong theme of the conference, it would be a collaborative effort with immigrants whose voices and experience would shape the efforts.

In February Seventh Generation hosted a very informative webinar, Immigration and the Shareholder. Check it out. https://seventhgenerationinterfaith.org/2018/02/17/sgi-webinar-recording-immigration-and-the-shareholder

Sister Ruth Battaglia is the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Coordinator for the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes.

SGI Webinar Recording: Member Orientation

This morning, we hosted a webinar for member orientation. Let’s begin by offering thanks to Sr. Nora Nash, OSF and Tom McCaney of PA-CRI for joining us. Also, we are thankful to Mark Peters, Director of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation, ‎Priests of the Sacred Heart and SGI board member, who shared of his experience as a member. Thanks, too, to all of our members who joined us as well as those who will watch the webinar here.

We hope that webinar:

  • Inspires confidence that our work in shareholder advocacy can make a difference on important issues
  • Provides examples of how shareholder advocacy is done
  • Offers a few first steps, best practices for those beginning in this ministry
  • Introduces a community of people committed to change who work alongside us


The slides from the webinar are here.

Additional recommended resources include:

Important: As always, your feedback allows us to improve our webinars. Please, follow this link to provide your input.

Shareholders work for racial justice

Four SGI members participated in ICCR‘s Spring Conference: Sr. Ruth Battaglia, C.S.A., Chris Cox, Frank Sherman, and Friar Robert Wotypka, O.F.M., Cap. We will report back what we heard and learned in a variety of ways in the coming weeks.

Today’s tweet from Pope Francis reminds us that preventing evil is not enough; we must take positive action together. Since its inception, SGI has endeavored to make the voices and concerns of those who suffer injustice the center of our reflection and action. I see it reflected as well in the work of the new Racial Justice Investing group within ICCR.

National events in 2017 intensified focus on racial, ethnic, and gender equality. The #MeToo movement, protests concerning the Confederate Flag and Confederate statues, the Women’s March, and the Black Lives Matter movement all contributed to this shift in focus. While personal conversion is vital to change, it is not enough. Addressing systemic injustice requires changes in structures at the level of policy, economics, and worldviews.

A session at the recent ICCR conference included a session from the newly formed Racial Justice Investing group. Pat Tomaino of Zevin Asset Management chaired the session. We also heard from Lisa Hayles of Boston Common Asset Management, Susan Baker of Trillium Asset Management, and Mari Schwartzer of NorthStar Asset Management. Hayles spoke of The 30% Coalition (that corporate boardrooms reflect the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of the United States workforce). Susan Baker discussed workforce diversity and the case for pressing companies to make the composition of the workforce transparent. Schwartzer voiced concerns about prison labor (NPR reported on some of the issues). Finally,  Tomaino addressed diversity and inclusion, especially within the tech workforce.

Pat Tomaino

The Racial Justice Investing group has monthly/semi-monthly calls and has a webpage within ICCR’s member area where SGI members can sign up to participate and to receive regular updates. Previously, the group drafted a Mission Statement:

Racial Justice Investing is a group of socially responsible investors and others in the business community who are taking action for racial justice within our own organizations, as well as in our engagements with portfolio companies.

This important work will contribute to our corporate engagements. We heard about success from Johns Hopkins in hiring of ex-offenders. We talked about resolutions asking tech companies to tie portion of executive compensation to diversity and inclusion goals among other sustainability goals. We also heard about work from the American Friends Service Committee investigating corporate investments in the prison industry. Much remains to be done, but it is exciting to see our partners deeply engaging this issue.

Capuchin friar offers remarks at ICCR conference opening

This past week, four from SGI participated in ICCR‘s Spring Conference: Sr. Ruth Battaglia, C.S.A., Chris Cox, Frank Sherman, and Friar Robert Wotypka, O.F.M., Cap. We will report back what we heard and learned in a variety of ways in the coming weeks– here on the blog, at our May member meeting, to name but two channels. To lead off, we want to share the contribution of one of our members: Robert was asked to deliver some remarks in the Interfaith Session during the conference’s first day.

I begin by living out my desire to be inclusive and to acknowledge my theological, my cosmic presupposition maybe, by sharing the best definition of the Franciscan movement that I ever heard. I don’t remember who said it, but it is this: “The Franciscans are the Protestants who never left the Church.” So I am one of you.

And that’s relevant for our purposes here because of the movement’s first days – which could have gone differently than they did. Saint Francis of Assisi formed a new way of living out the Gospel, he wrote a Rule and he took his Rule to Pope Innocent III, who gave it verbal approval. To study the context of pope’s decision is to know that he preferred to have Francis within the Church, advocating for change and introducing these new things and shaking things up, than to banish him and treat him as an outsider. Isn’t that a starting point of the ICCR? That it’s better that we sit down together and work things out than to separate from each other in this work?

The heart of the Gospel as I have been formed to hear and proclaim it – and none of this is original – is to build up the Reign of God. What is that? I have best heard this defined as God’s rule working in human relations – and what defines God’s rule? These values: Peace, Freedom, Justice, Sister/Brotherhood. That’s what the Gospel is all about, that is how Jesus lived. So before there was a rule, before Saint Francis, before Jesus proclaimed the Reign of God, there was the Covenant.

And what is a covenant? A covenant is a way for two unequal parties to enter into and sustain a relationship. And I think about the work of ICCR, as I am slowly coming to understand it, and I come to see it as a covenantal work. ICCR does not have the voice, the resources, the pull of the parties we’re engaging with. We are equal in dignity, equal in potential, equal before the law … but we are not equal in resources or influence. And I say this out of my first direct experience of dialogue with a corporation. A company rep told us on a conference call, referencing a Greenhouse Gas reduction regime that we were advocating his company enter into, that no other of his investors was coming to the company about this.

What did that show? For me it felt to me that this company rep was showing us mercy, which is the fuel of the work of the Reign of God. Mercy, as I have heard it defined, is to meet people where they are, be ready to offer your gifts, and to be ready to respond to the gifts of others. And that is how this rep met us and greeted our work.

Which brings me to another Francis, a 21st century Francis, Pope Francis, and his vision and desire that the Catholic Church be the Church of Mercy for the world, which above all points to above all point to and to carry on the mission of Jesus, who Pope Francis calls “the face of God’s mercy.” Pope Francis loves three words – he’s a Catholic, he likes Trinitarian imagery – and he loves these three words: mercy, encounter, and conversion.

And I see these words, these values, these energies, building up the mission and the work of ICCR, and I feel so grateful. Encounter requires collaboration, I continue to be astonished by the profound and peaceful encounters that occur here between parties with different pre- suppositions. Encounter: encounter is the presupposition of collaboration, and here we are, doing collaborate work to build up peace, freedom, justice, sister/brotherhood. And conversion – conversion says we don’t take small steps, we don’t fiddle around the edges, we see and we say: things are not as they could be, things are not as they should be. Pope Francis calls this “not as the should be” “the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.”

Pope Francis reminds us, or awakens us, to the fact that “purchasing is always a moral and not just an economic choice,” he writes, this also from his encyclical Laudato Si that “…we still lack the culture needed to confront …” the crises that are afflicting life on earth.” He says, “We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations.” I consider this forum, these engagements, this ministry of ICCR, the very place where such leaders can be and are being formed. And I give thanks to God for the chance to walk with you in your work. I close the way Pope Francis closed his encyclical on care for creation, Laudato Sí: “Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.”

“Come now, let us set things right”

“Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Upon hearing those words from Isaiah, my heart was drawn to the recent events in Parkland, Florida. How can we, how can I “set things right?” We cannot bring back those 17 who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Nor can we bring back the two killed at Kentucky’s Marshall County High School (Jan 2018), nor the three at New Mexico’s Aztec High School (Dec 2017), nor the six at California’s Rancho Tehama Elementary School (Nov 2017), nor any of those many tragedies among school shootings in the U.S.

The youth from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have undertaken a herculean task: getting Congressional action on guns. At this point, Congress remains crippled. If Congress passes comprehensive background checks for gun sales, raises the minimum legal age for gun purchases, and restricts the sale of certain firearms, the inspired leadership from students Emma González and David Hogg will have accomplished a miracle of biblical proportions.

Do Not Stand Idly By details actions that local and state public officials can take, including identifying “bad-apple” gun dealers and changing firearm procurement policies for local law enforcement. They also have some modest and meaningful proposals for firearms manufacturers, including building a network of reputable dealers and deploying smart technologies in firearm safety. In spite of the availability of new technologies, gun makers have not chosen to deploy them. A simple way to see it is to compare a common firearm and a cell phone. The average cell phone has greater and more extensive security than any firearm on the market in the U.S., but the firearm is much more lethal than the cell phone.

For our part as shareholders, how can we “set things right?” Some (under the hashtag of #BoycottNRA) have pressured companies to break agreements and preferences extended to the National Rifle Association (NRA). A host of firms have ended partnerships with the NRA. Axios.com has provided a running list of companies that have ended their agreements with the NRA hereBlackstone, a large private equity asset management group, called its outside fund managers to make a report over the weekend about investments in firearms.  FedEx seems to gone further than most other companies who merely ended partnership agreements. FedEx offered a statement that expressed specific values about assault weapons.

Barron’s Reshma Kapadia outlined a strategy in a recent article: “We’re All Gun Owners, and Here’s Why.” Kapadia explains that even Florida teachers, via their retirement funds, hold shares in the companies that make the AR-15 rifle. Vanguard and BlackRock hold major stakes in the three manufacturers of firearms. The gun makers are small relative the size of the two large funds, the value of a “rounding error” according to Kapadia, but she notes: “The gun makers may not matter to asset managers, but the reverse isn’t true. The fund giants help keep the stocks of gun makers afloat.” At least 16 banks, including Bank of America, Capital One, JPMogran Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo, also are significant shareholders in firearms manufacturers.

Reuters reports that BlackRock has not remained idle: “BlackRock puts gunmakers on notice after Florida school shooting.” The article duly notes that BlackRock has not defined what actions it will take. For my part, I’d recommend that BlackRock join with Sr. Judy Byron, O.P. who filed resolutions with American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson) and Sturm Ruger. The resolutions ask the companies to report on their activities related to gun safety measures and the mitigation of harm associated with gun products, including efforts to research and produce safer guns and gun products, and to assess the reputational and financial risks they face from gun violence in the U.S.

Let us commit ourselves to “set things right.” Even the words from Isaiah that precede it deeply resonate with our work in corporate social responsibility: “Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). Let us not be deaf to the cries of school children. Let us not fail to act.

ICCR has a press release about the resolutions here