Celebrating 50 Years

SGI began in 1973 when our founders, Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M, Cap., Sr. Alphonsa Puls S.S.S.F., and Sr. Charlita Foxhoven, S.S.S.F developed principles to align the stewardship of their financial assets with Catholic Social Teaching. Now, 50 years later, SGI has grown to more than 30 member organizations and members currently engage over 60 companies, leading and participating in over 100 different engagements on issues ranging from climate change, corporate governance, food sustainability, water stewardship, health equity, and human rights.

We are excited to celebrate the work done by those before us and aim to steward the work now entrusted to us. With this, we have revamped the SGI logo to better reflect our name, the circularity of nature, and the evolution of being a catalyst for change. 

In 2015, our coalition’s name changed to Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment. The name, Seventh Generation, is derived from 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. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nation contains the Great Binding Law:

In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation. 

Given the proud history and presence of Native Americans in our Midwestern region and their love of Mother Earth and all creation, we felt this name spoke to our Mission.

Historically Catholic, Interfaith was added to welcome institutions of all faith traditions and secular values-driven investors to be more inclusive and collaborative. By intentionally reaching out and creating opportunities for partnership, we strengthen our Mission to collectively build  just and right relationships in our community.

As SGI is celebrating its 50th anniversary, we celebrate the origin of our name which is at the heart of our Mission. Given our primarily Catholic membership, we acknowledge the deep rooted injustices which the Catholic Church and many Catholic orders have inflicted upon Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge, in Milwaukee, that we are on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menomonie homeland, and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present. There is much more work to do to repair relationships and give back what was unjustly taken. We recommit ourselves to our work and Mission:

Through the lens of faith and the promotion of human rights, Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment builds a more just and sustainable world for those most vulnerable by integrating social and environmental values into corporate and investor actions.

Please join us in celebrating, now, throughout the year, and  especially on September 12th, 2023 at our annual conference.

Building Investor Support for a Just and Equitable Energy Transition

SGI hosted a webinar on the Just Transition on Wednesday, May 17th. We were delighted that ICCR’s Mary Hiebert joined us along with SGI board members Tom Content and Sr. Pegge Boehm, P.B.V.M. Mary offered an overview of the just transition, a look at some of the measures, and highlighted ICCR’s efforts in this area. Tom spoke to his work on behalf of rate payers with the Citizens’ Utility Board of Wisconsin, Supporting a Just & Equitable Energy Transition. Sr. Pegge spoke to the perspective of a “Faith-ful Stockholder.”

We are so very grateful to our presenters who shared with us from their wisdom and experience.

Some resources that might be helpful to deepen awareness and understanding:

Slides are available here. The video is available here.

Investors voice concern over misrepresentations within Valero’s latest SEC filing

Miller-Howard Investments, Inc. filed an exempt solicitation regarding Valero’s misrepresentations within their latest SEC filing concerning a shareholder resolution to be voted at tomorrow’s shareholder meeting. 

The exempt solicitation reads: 

As long-term investors in Valero Energy (“Valero” or “the company”), Miller/Howard Investments, Inc. is concerned that the company’s lack of strong and comprehensive greenhouse gas targets—in contrast to peers like Phillips 66 and Marathon Petroleum Corporation—raises questions about its strategy and preparation for a low-carbon future. Further rationale is outlined by the proponent, Mercy Investment Services, in their exempt solicitation. Accordingly, we urge support for Proposal No. 5: Stockholder proposal to set different GHG emissions reductions targets (Scopes 1, 2, and 3). 

Adding to our concerns are the representations within Valero’s latest SEC filing, as laid out below:

Valero’s position in SEC filingCommentary
“ISS already rates Valero’s existing climate strategy as ‘exemplary.’”This is not true. ISS, in a section of its analysis entitled “Climate Risk Disclosure”, noted that Valero “exemplifie[d] the standard” expectations set by TCFD.  As is stated in the title, footnote, and methodology, the indicator is intended to reflect “the quality of corporate disclosure” (emphasis added). ISS said nothing about the quality of the company’s strategy itself.Fails to acknowledge that ISS recommends voting FOR Proposal No. 5.

We encourage peers to consider this in the context of all governance-related votes. Further considerations have been outlined in Mercy Investment Services’ exempt solicitation, urging votes AGAINST the re-election of director nominees Robert A. Profusek, Deborah Majoras, and Rayford Wilkins.

Beyond this, investors are increasingly concerned about Valero’s ongoing pattern of misleading assertions. 

After over four years of engagement with Valero’s management, Climate Action 100+ signatory investors sent a private letter on January 5th, 2023, to Valero’s Lead Independent Director and members of the Sustainability and Public Policy Committee to continue our good-faith dialogue and engagement on the company’s climate-related risks and opportunities. This request led to a meeting with independent directors and additional private correspondence. Throughout, the investors have consistently supported the company in any efforts to evaluate, improve, and benchmark not only its disclosures but its actions and – vitally – its strategy.

As a participant in the engagement, we were dismayed and disappointed to see the company’s publication of a response to that private correspondence from Valero’s Sustainability and Public Policy Committee chair, Deborah P. Majoras. She claimed: 

We believe the fundamental differences in our perspectives centers around how we determine the best way to reduce GHG emissions. You have expressed your preference for absolute emission reductions, which companies can achieve by closing refineries. You highlighted that several of our peers have closed refineries over the last couple of years and have targets that take advantage of those closures. However, we believe the challenges presented by the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and the energy needs of the world are not met by a narrow strategy for reducing carbon emissions.

This claim is profoundly untrue and blatantly misrepresents the motives of the investors addressed in the letter. We reference and amplify Mercy Investments in its response,

We are concerned that VLO’s Board is failing to properly exercise its risk management and oversight responsibilities of Valero’s low-carbon fuels growth strategy given the critical risks climate change poses to its business operations. Rather than engage in constructive dialogue with Mercy Investment Services or with the Climate Action 100+ engagement cohort, Valero has painted us as an unreasonable actor aiming to shut down the company’s refineries.

We encourage peers to consider these concerns on all governance-related votes. Further considerations have been outlined in Mercy Investment Services’ exempt solicitation.

Valero’s virtual stockholder Meeting will take place, tomorrow, Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 11:00 AM, Central Time.

Contact: Natalie Wasek, [email protected] 

Find the press release here.

About Seventh Generation Interfaith CRI

Through the lens of faith and the promotion of human rights, Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment builds a more just and sustainable world for those most vulnerable by integrating social and environmental values into corporate and investor actions.


Seventh Generation Interfaith, Inc. (SGI) may share public information to promote free discussion, debate and learning among investors on socially responsible investing issues. SGI does not seek directly or indirectly the power to act as proxy for a security holder and does not furnish or otherwise request, or act on behalf of a person who furnishes or requests, a form of revocation, abstention, consent or authorization. SGI does not necessarily endorse or validate the information above and shall not be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with use of or reliance on any information contained herein, including, but not limited to, lost profits or punitive or consequential damages. SGI does not provide investment, financial planning, legal, or tax advice. We are neither licensed nor qualified to provide any such advice. The content of our programming, publications and presentations is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and is neither appropriate nor intended to be used for the purposes of making any decisions on investing, purchases, sales, trades, or any other investment transactions.

Too Many Companies Remain Complicit in Russia’s War

One year ago today, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. Appropriately, today’s headlines report the devastating consequences in lives lost and displaced persons. There have been somewhere around 300,000 military and civilian deaths, and the conflict has generated an additional 8,087,952 Ukrainian refugees living abroad and millions more displaced within the country. The Ukrainian government database of crimes of aggression and war crimes committed by the Russian military ended the week at 71,321, according to this tweet. The gruesome tally underscores both the severe and systemic nature of Russia’s violations of international law and the severe risks for companies that have operations and relationships in the country.

The war’s devastating impact affects many more countries. As Ukraine is a breadbasket for grains, the war has undermined global food security. The war spiked global energy costs, exacerbating an existing energy crisis.

At the same time, the hostilities prompted new strategies for coordinating and targeting international sanctions that have been swift and significant. Even today, the U.S. and allies introduced new sanctions. As well, on this anniversary, Russia became the first country ever to be expelled from Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body that sets anti-money-laundering law standards

An element that needs more attention is the ongoing collaboration by global companies with the Russian aggressors. Their denials aside, those companies still operating in Russia are materially involved in the Russian war effort as they comply with the terms of Russia’s mobilization law. This article from B4Ukraine offers additional data points and analysis, and it draws a firm conclusion:

“Threats to profits and portfolios, but most importantly to the Ukrainian people, lead to one inevitable conclusion for businesses – to end all operations and business relationships with the Russian government or risk being complicit in its crimes.”

In light of the severe risks endemic to conflict, the UN Business and Human Rights Working Group developed a tool for that due diligence, published last June: Heightened Due Diligence for Business in Conflict-Affected Contexts: A Guide. As mandatory due diligence legislation continues its advance in the European Union, alongside a growing body of international jurisprudence, investors can no longer ignore geopolitical risks associated with autocracy, military aggression, and corruption.

The war confirms that investors need to improve human rights due diligence processes. Given Russia’s human rights history over recent decades, some investors preempted this foreseeable issue. Other investors belatedly found that companies had undue exposure to Russia. At the outset of the war, SGI called for companies to conduct heightened due diligence to ensure that their activities do not support the Russian war effort.  As well, SGI joined a coalition of investors who quickly condemned the act of aggression and called on companies to undertake heightened human rights due diligence. That coalition letter, and other efforts where SGI has participated, have received critical support from our colleagues at the Heartland Initiative. With their support, SGI has joined letters and dialogues with technology and finance firms about risks associated with their operations in Russia.

Sadly, those calls have gone unheeded in many quarters. New data shows that companies’ responses fall far short of what is required under international frameworks, like the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A new report, Unfinished Businessbased on data from the Kyiv School of Economics examining 3,078 multinationals found that 56% (1,717 companies) which had ties to Russia at the start of the war continue to do business with the country. The data also showed that: 

“Of the companies that had a local Russian subsidiary at the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, only one in ten has completed the liquidation or sale of its Russian business. 

“The remaining companies paid at least $18 billion in taxes to Russia in 2021 — enough to fund Russia’s war against Ukraine for two months.” 

(Credit: B4Ukraine)

Our keynoter from last fall’s conference, Bennett Freeman wrote about these concerns in a recent article for the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. He concludes with an observation and a question:

“This tragic anniversary challenges the remaining foreign companies still operating in Russia to leave. At the same time, will a new geopolitical corporate responsibility take shape – and take action – in time to help fortify the battered remnants of the international rules-based order?”

A year ago, CEOs of global companies offered statements against the war. On this sad anniversary, we want to call companies to prioritize actions over words. Companies like Procter & Gamble, Mondelez, Nestle, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, and Johnson & Johnson would do well to heed the words of Benjamin Franklin: “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.”

SGI hosts a Lobbying Disclosure and Lobbying Alignment Webinar

Companies invest billions of dollars in political influence through lobbying, campaign contributions, and other means. Corporations are societally chartered institutions of enormous importance and value, creating jobs, producing goods and services that consumers rely upon, impact the environment we live in and pay salaries to worker who hope to lead fulfilling lives. At the same time, corporations spend vastly greater sums on lobbying than the funds available to pro-consumer, pro-environment, and pro-worker organizations. Hence, we consider this an important, basic area of corporate governance, and adequate disclosure of corporate lobbying remains a pressing shareholder proposal topic.

SGI members filed or co-filed 12 proposals related to lobbying for the 2023 proxy season. Over the last few years, resolutions have moved from beyond basic disclosure to reporting on alignment and misalignment between a company’s stated position and the lobbying efforts that a company funds indirectly via trade associations,  501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofits, and 527 political organizations, often referred to as “dark money.” Those reports are important as the reveal the risks of lobbying misalignment.

To dig deeper into these themes, we hosted Tim Smith, senior policy advisor at ICCR, and John Keenan, Corporate Governance Analyst for Capital Strategies for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), for a webinar on Lobbying Disclosure and Lobbying Alignment.

The webinar also points investors to valuable resources concerning lobbying:

We are grateful for Tim Smith and John Keenan joining us. We want to thank all of our members and guests for attending our webinar.

Slides are available here. The video is available here.

Happy New Year!

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. 

Amplifying the Voices of Indigenous Peoples

A number of SGI members have long histories of working amid indigenous peoples. In this webinar, we offer a modest goal: we explore how we might stand with indigenous peoples and amplify their concerns in our engagements with portfolio companies. We were joined by Kate Finn (Executive Director, First Peoples Worldwide), Keith Doxtator (Trust Enrollments Director of the Oneida Nation), and Steven Heim (Managing Director for Boston Common Asset Management).

Our very name, Seventh Generation Interfaith, is an homage to the Great Law of the Iroquois. The planet faces an existential crisis, and Indigenous people have been talking about it, planning for it, fighting against it, and organizing around it since the beginnings of colonial settlement around the world. Most non-Indigenous people don’t have this long-term perspective—nor the many-centuries-old knowledge of natural cycles, and what to do to manage these and modify human practices when needed to get back into balance with the natural world.

We see today’s webinar as a step in a conversation or connection to a much bigger story. The best way to acknowledge the place where we live and work is to know and appreciate it. We encourage our SGI members to trace and celebrate their own connections to land and water and get to know the local indigenous history of sustainable, resilient human presence in this and other places. We should know the nearby native nations and encourage work toward reconciliation where land has been taken and culture erased.

If you are not a member of the Investors & Indigenous Peoples Working Group and would like to learn more about joining IIPWG, please email [email protected]. The IIPWG invites investors to join its monthly calls. As well, the Group serves as a clearinghouse for education, news, and joint action to bridge and bring together Native and Non-Native communities on issues related to sustainable and responsible investing.

We’ll also remind you that tomorrow (November 17th) the IIPWG hosts a webinar on Indigenous Peoples, Biodiversity and Sustainable Finance. You can register for the webinar here.

We want to thank all of our members and guests for attending our webinar.

Slides are available here. The video is available here.