DLS Consulting

Unexpected Heros in Corporate Responsibility

It was my pleasure to attend a faith based conference this month that was put on by the Investment Management Institute (IMI) of Greenwich, Conn. This group has been around for quite some time and has worked quite closely with many of the large denominations and across a wide band of faith experiences including Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish organizations.  I was invited to share along with many other people who have felt a calling to making a difference in the corporate world as it relates to responsible ownership in the stocks of publicly held companies.  This honor was a result of some of the internet discourse that took place several months back about the comparisons of those who might follow a course of action that would typically fall under the heading of Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) in contrast to Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). 

None of the controversy ever emerged at the conference as it was focused on issues such as micro loans and hedge funds; performance measurement and benchmarking; alternative investments and risk management along with other exciting topics.  But the most impressive part of the conference was to meet people who have been behind the scenes giants in setting examples of what a responsible shareholder is all about. 

You see, the most effective actions that have taken place in corporate America in the last 25 years have often happened because of meaningful dialogue.  Yes, the corporate resolutions have a place in getting the attention of top management, but even more importantly, having a chance to share directly with management the concerns behind the resolution has resulted in a changed attitude and often a change in the direction of the company without the public embarrassment of a proxy fight or a protracted confrontation that might have required protests and divestiture.

Two of the people who stood out for me at the meetings are Lynn Miller and Sister Patricia Daly.  Lynn is a man with a silver beard that reflects his ease at being unique and different in how he approaches life and it's challenges.  He is "retired" from official duties with Mennonite Mutual Aid but lives much of his life on a Caribbean mission field helping kids in an orphanage.  Symbolic of his work in responsible investing is one of his books entitled "The Power of Enough" .  He also articulated his desire to offer more in the area of performance measurement by looking past the usual comparison statistics to actually measuring the impact of funds on the contributions they make to society. 

Sister Daly is even more well known in many corporate circles as she has worked with many companies in helping them understand that profit and loss is not the whole story. Indeed, cleaning up the environment is an important issue and one that she and the funds she represents take very seriously.  Just ask some of the people at General Electric and ExxonMobil if you don't believe me.  You can also Google both of these folks and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) to see more about what they are doing.

The reason they are heroes to me is that despite the fact that I actually disagree with some of their positions, I love that they are passionate about bringing a sense of moral responsibility to the marketplace.  They are not luke warm about their positions or their faith.  They want to make a difference and they live their lives according to that position.  We can all learn and model that example!  Thank you Lynn and Sister Pat for your great examples! 


Monday Morning Message Sent 1/28/08


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