Happy New Year!
SGI is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Founded in 1973 by Michael Crosby, O.F.M., Cap., Alphonsa Puls and Charlita Foxhoven, S.S.S.F., who were pioneers in corporate shareholder engagement. SGI was the first coalition to join the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) to enhance our shareholder advocacy for systemic change.
Our name was changed to Seventh Generation Interfaith in 2015 in reference to the Great Law of the Iroquois to reflect the Native Americans’ love of mother earth and all creation. The Iroquois leaders considered the impact of their decisions on the current generation as well as for seven generations into the future. And in 2017, SGI became an independent 501(c)3. Now, SGI sits at 35 institutional members including 30 Catholic religious orders, a Catholic diocese, and a Catholic healthcare system, as well as three socially responsible asset management companies.
As we enter this new year, we reflect on the initiatives started by Father Mike and other pioneers:
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution with Home Products, followed by Bristol Myers and Nestle, to launch a campaign highlighting the connection between increased formula use and rising infant mortality rates in developing countries (1974).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution supporting indigenous rights with Shell (1975).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first political spending disclosure resolution with ITT (1976).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution on high U.S. drug prices at SmithKline (1976).
- Midwest Capuchins filed a resolution with Bankers Trust for its lending to a Latin American military dictatorship (1978).
- Midwest Capuchins launched a campaign concerning tobacco with Philip Morris (1981).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution concerning global warming with Exxon (1986).
- Grand Rapids Dominicans file first resolution calling for package reduction & recycling with General Mills (1994).
- Midwest Capuchins file first resolution raising concerns about human rights violations in China at Boeing (1997).
Our impact continues to grow as more investors support our members’ work to catalyze corporate change. In 2022, SGI member filed or co-filed 59 resolutions where, three won majority votes at annual meetings: a racial justice audit at Johnson & Johnson, a civil rights audit at Altria, and a lobbying alignment report at Gilead, and the percentage of proposals withdrawn due to productive agreements with companies was 30%. Collectively, SGI members are a part of over 130 engagements at over 70 companies on issues ranging from Greenhouse gas reduction targets to lobbying and political spending, to racial justice, and affordability and access to medicines.
With Frank Sherman’s retirement, we celebrate and thank all he has done for the growth of our organization. Frank zealously underscored that SGI is a member-led coalition, and staff now will continue to do the same. Frank worked to involve each member organization, emphasizing the impact that they are making on behalf of people and the planet. He built a culture of active membership. In this, Frank recognized that this work needs to be a whole-of-society effort.
As staff, we are energized in the new year and hope to continue to grow SGI and to advance the mission of our members. We see this year ahead of us full of challenges from those who question the relevance or even the validity of ESG, but we continue to fight for shareholder rights and engage companies on pressing issues. Our coalition is growing stronger, and our message is spreading.
There is the fundamental joy of doing this together. We often ask, “Even if you were big enough to do this alone, who would want to?” We believe that our members have been enriched making this journey together. This year is a celebration of the past 50 years of hard work and a reminder of all of the work left to be done.