July 07, 2017
Author: Christopher Cox
Pioneers in shareholder advocacy to be honored at ICCR’s annual event on September 28th.
NEW YORK, NY, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28TH, 2017 – The Governing Board of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) is pleased to announce that the winners of the ICCR 2017 Legacy Award are Sr. Patricia Daly, OP of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, NJ and Fr. Michael Crosby OFM Cap of the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order.
Sr. Pat has worked in corporate responsibility and socially responsible investing for 40 years. She serves as the Director Emeritus of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment after having served 23 years as Executive Director. Pat is also the Corporate Responsibility Representative for the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, NJ.
Over the years Pat has successfully negotiated with companies on issues of human rights, labor, ecological concerns, militarism, equality, health and tobacco, and international debt and capital flows. Pat has played a role in forcing General Electric to pay for the clean-up of the Hudson River, helped to integrate global warming and the impacts of climate change into the priorities of Corporate America, and along with Fr. Mike Crosby, is a founder of Campaign ExxonMobil, calling this oil giant to task on matters related to climate change.
Sr. Pat is valued not only for her wisdom and leadership on so many issues of concern for the ICCR community, but for the way she has actively mentored many in our ranks, helping to cultivate the next generation of ICCR leaders as well.
Fr. Michael Crosby was one of the earliest members of ICCR and has been active in socially responsible investing and corporate engagement since 1973. Until recently, Mike was the Executive Director of Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition in Milwaukee, an important ICCR member in the Midwest. Mike is credited with working to bring Catholic institutions into ICCR membership, and for four decades has been involved in engagements on many social and environmental concerns, most notably human rights in global supply chains, GHG emissions reductions and climate change and the health risks of tobacco.
Mike has been an active speaker, giving year-round workshops and retreats, and is an award-winning author. At ICCR, Mike is known for his passionate calls to action on the critical issues facing our planet and its people.
Said ICCR’s Board Chair Rev. Séamus Finn, “In honoring Fr. Mike Crosby OFM Cap and Sr. Patricia Daly OP, the ICCR community acknowledges the pioneering role that they have both played in bringing the vision of faith and the passion for justice into the cultures and operations of public corporations and the deliberations and decisions that are central to the investment process.”
Said ICCR’s CEO Josh Zinner, “We are thrilled to be honoring Pat and Mike with the ICCR Legacy Award. There could not possibly be two more deserving recipients as, since the very beginning, they have been there pushing companies to do the right thing on so many critical issues of environmental and social justice. They are both models for us all- kind-hearted, thoughtful, compassionate and full of strength. We are so grateful to both for all that they have given to ICCR.”
Both Sr. Pat and Fr. Mike will be honored at ICCR’s special event on Thursday, September 28th at the Riverside Church in New York City. To register for this event, please visit www.iccr.org.
About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 46th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300 member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $200 billion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster greater corporate accountability. www.iccr.org
May 05, 2017
Author: Christopher Cox
Perhaps you already have seen Pope Francis’ TED Talk “Why the only future worth building includes everyone.” If not, take a look. This post will be here when you have finished the 17 minutes, 52 second video.
Welcome back. Wasn’t that great?
In his direct, simple style, Pope Francis offers three main points (like his structure for most homilies):
Pope Francis offers an insightful way forward in such difficult times as this.
In a few minutes, I will leave this computer and walk to join in Milwaukee’s March for Workers. Locally, it has a particular concern for immigrant workers, but, personally, I will walk as well for exploited workers throughout the globe. In fact, most such marches today in the U.S. will likely use t-shirts for the cause made by other exploited workers.
Our work here at The Human Thread is a slow, gradual work. We share our tools and modules and scorecards. We talk with neighbors about our shopping habits. We support the work of those who meet with the leadership of retailers, urging human rights and a just wage in the dispersed corporate supply chain. This day, let us take some time to reflect on the “Revolution of Tenderness” proposed by Pope Francis, a revolution where indifference is replaced by compassion and solidarity, a revolution that sees not dollar signs but the faces of human beings, our very brothers and sisters.
April 04, 2017
Author: Christopher Cox
Art changes our perception. Occasionally, art speaks where words fail. Rose Flores uses her art to promote understanding and action in the garment industry on critical issues facing our communities and the world.
Rose encountered The Human Thread from a presentation at Divine Mercy Parish in South Milwaukee. Troubled by the content of the presentation, both the harm to the garment worker as well as the harm to creation, Rose said that she could not sleep. She said, “I wanted to tell people about the issue, but how do you explain it?” So, she decide to make something visual.
Rose and her husband dubbed the figure “Machimon.” On a mission trip to Guatemala, they encountered a Mayan deity, a god of excess and injustice by the name of Machimon. In a way, as we purchase garments to such excess and as the garment industry perpetuates tremendous injustice, the name seems fitting.
A few notable elements in the art:
Rose insists that she does not have an art background, but that she enjoys it and has taken some classes. She adds, “It surprises me that I did this.”
All of the material for the art came from her home, all recycled. The main garment in the work of art is a shirt from her husband that was in their box to donate to Goodwill. The papier-mâché figure in the right hand is a project that a granddaughter made visiting an art museum.
Does Rose sleep any better after making this work of art? [The garment industry] “still bothers me a great deal,” she said. “When I try to talk to people, I get a glazed look sometimes. I can’t find the words to tell people how serious this is.”
Often, as injustice becomes routinized, we fall into what Pope Francis terms the “globalization of indifference.” Before such an enormous issue of injustice, what can a person do?
For Rose, “Machimon” was something she had to do. “Machimon” is a creative expression of art that exposes that injustice and hints at a way forward based on solidarity and receiving the other person as a gift. Art, indeed, can be an instrument for social change.
Since 1972, Rose and her husband Jose have lived in South Milwaukee participating in the parish that now comprise Divine Mercy Parish.
April 04, 2017
Author: Christopher Cox
The New York Times had a front page article Friday, “Brands Wrestle With Whiplash of Viral Anger,” that explores the requirement for increased nimbleness on the part of brands as activists pressure them concerning the placement of their advertising. While the article is concerned with advertising, it has an important quotation that speaks to something deeper:
“Americans are now demanding that their brands articulate their values and weigh in on political issues, and I think the degree to which they are expecting that is really quite new,” said Kara Alaimo, who teaches public relations at Hofstra University.
The consumer demand stands in sharp contrast to the claim by Milton Friedman in the same newspaper almost fifty years earlier: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud” (NYT, Sept. 13, 1970).
While today’s article is quite good, giving the context of a handful of current controversies, it misses a more crucial question: Why do Americans demand more of their brands? Why do Americans now expect CEOs to speak out about presidential executive orders, state laws, and a myriad of concerns that, at first blush, seem removed from their corporate responsibilities?
One macro explanation is that the social contract has changed. While numerous philosophers have described the “social contract,” Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Du contrat social (1762) may be the canonical description of the concept. Rousseau’s concept included business but his notion of the social contract was largely a consideration of individuals and the government. An individual yields sovereignty to a government that in turn provides prosperity, security, and health. Rousseau’s concept did not envision the circumstance we have today. Corporations have evolved such that they wield enormous resources and, thereby, influence. Multi-national corporations now have annual sales that dwarf the economies of many nations. The graphic below shows that, if the largest corporations’ annual sales were considered alongside the GDP of nations, more than 40 corporations rank in the top 100. In 2016, Wal-Mart ranks #21, with an economy larger than that of Sweden.
The enormous size and scale of multinational corporations fittingly drives the desire on the part of consumers that these corporations express the values of those consumers. Hence, a controversial state law may spark statements from large employers in that state. Further, leading institutions, like the United Nations, via the Global Compact which engages more than 9,000 global companies in support of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the Catholic Church, in documents like Laudato Si’, attempt to persuade the corporate community that business must attend as well to the care of creation and concern for the most poor on the planet.
A changing landscape with greater concentration of power in large, multi-national corporations brings greater responsibility for attending to matters that were once not a day-to-day concern in the operations of a corporation.