Corporations are capable of accomplishing great things in
the world, but they must be held accountable as good social citizens, says
Laura Berry, executive director of the Interfaith Coalition on Corporate
Responsibility (ICCR). Berry spoke to the Christian Church Foundation Board of
Directors at their November meeting, sharing story after story of how
corporations are evolving and responding to the concerns expressed by the
Christian Church Foundation is a full member of ICCR,” said Foundation
President Gary W. Kidwell, “and I count this as one of our most important
alliances. As a faith-based investor, the Foundation seeks justice by engaging
with companies for responsible corporate behavior. Our coalition with other faith-based
investors through ICCR, helps us maximize our impact.”
Berry outlined how ICCR – which represents more than 300
organizations with investments in excess of $100 billion – engages companies to
create change, integrating social values into corporate and investor actions.
“What is right also is good for business,” she said.
ICCR members include faith
communities, asset management companies, labor unions, pension funds,
non-profit agencies and college and university endowment funds.
Berry shared notable examples of positive impact:
In the area of human trafficking, ICCR works with companies
in the hospitality, tourism and travel industry to offer staff training to help
recognize situations in which human trafficking could be occurring. Many
national hotel chains and airlines now train their workers to identify
potential human trafficking situations.
Governance is key to any organization, and ICCR lobbies for
corporations to have diverse boards, recognizing that differing voices are
vital to corporate success.
ICCR, recognizing childhood obesity as a national epidemic, has worked
with many fast-food companies to offer healthy options for children.
McDonald’s, for example, makes apple slices the default for kids’ menu options
instead of French fries.
“It is important,” said Foundation President Gary W.
Kidwell, “for the Foundation’s partner investors to know that their voice of
faith is being proclaimed through our work with ICCR.”
ICCR engages companies in discussions about issues that
impact the environment and humanity. By sponsoring shareholder resolutions,
voting proxies and participating in board-level meetings, ICCR works to help positively
influence companies on questions of corporate social responsibility.
Engagement with companies fares much better than divestiture, Berry said. When faith-based groups divest of particular company stocks in protest, they lose any right to create change within the company. Holding investments in companies gives organizations a voice in the future of those corporations
“Being a faith-based investor is a long-term commitment that
requires persistence and patience, and we believe we have an important role in
bringing a sense of wholeness to our world,” Kidwell said.
The Foundation Board, meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, also
honored the ministry of the Rev. Dr. W. Darwin Collins, who is retiring as vice
president of the Foundation in February 2016.
The Board also:
Elected officers for 2016. They are Rod Witte, chair, from
Denver, CO; Bob Williams; vice chair, from Dallas, TX; John May, secretary,
from Wilmington, NC; and Gloria Feliciano, at large, from Totowa, NJ. The
Investment Committee will be chaired by Todd Reed of Florence, KY, and the
Budget & Program Committee will be chaired by Linda Hull of Jacksonville,
Approved a $4.1 million budget for 2016 that is about
$20,000 less than the 2015 budget.
The Board of Directors will hold their next meeting April
24-26, 2016, in Indianapolis.