Posts tagged with: Corporate Social Responsibility

burritoBusiness, we are told, is supposed to have a conscience to survive. For instance, Chad Brooks at Fox Business says that businesses have to be “socially conscience” in order to attract customers:

Young consumers consider social responsibility most when shelling out big bucks for products such as automobiles, computers, consumer electronics and jewelry, the study found. Specifically, more than 40 percent of consumers under 30 consider social issues when buying a big-ticket item, compared to just 34 percent who factor in those issues when buying everyday items, like gasoline and food.

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Blog author: bwalker
posted by on Tuesday, November 26, 2013

macbethbloodEarlier this month, the Fairfield Mirror reported on a speech given at Fairfield University in Connecticut:

Many consumers are content in turning a blind eye to the injustices that save them cents on their dollars. While it may be challenging to understand the social responsibilities that affect the world’s most powerful corporations, one group of investors is constantly directing these corporations to increase their social responsibility: the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Senior economics major Arturo Jaras Watts and Fairfield University’s Proactive Investment Club organized an event on Nov. 6 to explain how to invoke social justice in corporations through financial investment. The lecture was open to all but was mostly attended by economic and business majors.

Patricia A. Daly headlined the event at this Jesuit school. Sr. Daly, readers will recall, is executive director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, billed on its website as “an alliance of Roman Catholic institutional investors primarily located throughout the New York metropolitan area” and “the largest regional member of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).”

The Mirror quotes Daly:

[F]eatured speaker Patricia A. Daly knows the consequences that can come from certain companies’ financial choices.

She believes investors must know who they are investing in.

‘If you’re not engaged, then you might as well sell the stock if it’s really a problem … If it’s making money, then that’s blood on your hands,’ she said. (more…)

No! Not the Dark Money!

No! Not the Dark Money!

“Dark money” sounds menacing and foreboding – a financial nomenclature suggestive of gothic masterpieces like “The Raven” and “The Black Cat.” Whereas Poe’s tales actually contain sinister elements, the phrase dark money is employed by activist shareholders much like the villains of countless “Scooby Doo” cartoons devised illusory ghosts, werewolves and vampires. The evildoers wanted to scare those meddlesome Mystery Machine kids from nefarious moneymaking schemes.

The anti-capitalism messages of “Scooby Doo” are repeated by those ominously intoning the perceived evils of so-called dark money in politics. In ordinary political usage, dark money refers to funds raised to finance an election campaign or ballot initiative without any requirement of public disclosure before voters decide the question.

Shareholder activists have torn a well-worn page from the “Scooby Doo” playbook by adopting the tactics of the show’s bad guys. These tactics include attempts to frighten voters with the dark money bogeyman, who lurks behind other pet issues such as genetically modified organisms and fracking (hydraulic fracturing). (more…)

Soros Kabuki Dance

Soros Kabuki Dance

The Securities and Exchange Commission conducted a hearing Wednesday to determine whether it should promulgate new disclosure rules for public companies. On hand was Laura Berry, executive director, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a New York-based watchdog group.

Ms. Berry was joined by a host of other liberal/progressive representatives working hard to undermine First Amendment rights bolstered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United. Berry and her cohorts – Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); Professor Robert Jackson, Columbia Law School; Professor John Coates, Harvard Law School; Pat Doherty, Office of the New York State Comptroller; Heidi Welsh, Sustainable Investments Institute – argued that 600,000 letters were submitted to the SEC backing up their demands for more corporate disclosure.

As noted by the Center for Competitive Politics, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization in Alexandria, Va., that works to protect free speech, this assertion – and the underlying premises that are employed to defend – are completely false:

Our analysis found less than .01% of these submissions to be “substantive” letters containing unique text and coherent arguments from independent perspectives that were not duplicates, without complete names, or using form text.

99.71% of the comment letters stem from nine different form letters from union and Soros-funded entities, which have posted SEC submission links on their websites. (more…)

3708GSD_21136_CheerLH_V10L.tifThe 2013 proxy shareholder season is over, resolutions debated into their respective win/loss columns and reports filed. This hasn’t stopped those shareholder Godflies – the clergy, nuns and other religious on the left – from firing the first salvos for 2014 corporate battles. Among the companies targeted for the initial fusillade is General Mills Inc., purveyor of such perceived market atrocities as the Cheerios breakfast cereal and Yoplait yogurt. Specifically, the company’s packaging practices and use of genetically modified organisms has come under fire

Mind you, your writer has nothing against reasonably priced foods as part of a healthy, affordable breakfast. In fact, Cheerios was a “get-up-and-go” staple of this former farm boy’s life. Continuing the trend, a bag of those little grainy nuggets of morning goodness served church going well by quieting my rambunctious toddlers during innumerable Sunday masses. I do, however, rankle when so-called “religious” activists employ bad science to drive up food prices for those least able to afford it, especially families with young children.

As You Sow, a nonprofit shareholder advocacy group allied with such Godflies as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and “social responsibility investment” firms Walden Asset Management and Trillium Asset Management presented a resolution to General Mills this past month that would have required the company to implement “extended producer responsibility” for packaging waste. Apparently, it’s incumbent upon the company to ensure cereal boxes and yogurt cups are recycled once consumers empty them. (more…)

Readers following my series of blog posts on shareholder proxy resolutions submitted by religious groups such as As You Sow and the Interfaith Council of Corporate Responsibility already know these resolutions have little to do with issues of faith. In fact, an overwhelming majority of these resolutions concern corporate speech and attempts to stifle it.

Your shareholders want to know more about your political spending. Really.

Your shareholders want to know more about your political spending. Really.

AYS and ICCR – as well as a host of other religious shareholders – submit proposals drafted by Bruce Freed, head of the Center for Political Accountability. Freed’s CPA and the Wharton Business School’s Zicklin Center, readers will recall, issued its annual index late last month. My last post detailed in part the wrongheadedness of shareholders pushing a political agenda at the expense of their fellow shareholders. However, I anticipate most readers require a bit more than your lowly scribe’s word that the CPA-Zicklin Index not only inflates the results of its shareholder resolutions but as well operates on behalf of groups more interested in shutting down corporate political speech.

The Center for Competitive Politics, a First Amendment nonprofit think tank located in Alexandria, Va., brings more firepower to arguments I’ve already made regarding the efforts of CPA and the proxy shareholders for whom Mr. Freed drafts resolutions. Regarding the CPA-Zicklin Index, CCP issued a statement by CCP Chairman Brad Smith, former Federal Election Commission Chairman:

To look at the CPA-Zicklin Index as a measure of ‘best corporate practices’ is like asking a wolf to describe ‘best practices’ for sheep … Corporations have an obligation to do what is in the best interest of their shareholders, not comply with the demands of a non- profit that opposes speech by the business community. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When business corporations are created, the community does not give something away, says Robert G. Kennedy in this week’s Acton Commentary. Instead, in order to pursue the economic benefits offered by the corporate structure, the community offers something in exchange.

The full text of his essay follows. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.
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On January 31, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility issued a press release, announcing the organization’s “2013 Proxy Resolutions and Voting Guide.” A quick read of the release and ancillary materials, however, reveals that these resolutions have very little to do with issues of religious faith and everything to do with the progressive political agenda.

The ICCR guide “features 180 resolutions filed at 127 companies” that call on shareholders to “promote corporate responsibility by voting their proxies in support of investor proposals that advance social, economic and environmental justice.”

The ICCR boasts that “nearly one third” of this year’s resolutions (52) focus on lobbying and political spending, with the remainder aimed at “health care, financial and environmental reform.” The release ominously asserts: “Shareholders have a right to know whether company resources are being used to impact elections and public policy, including regulatory legislation.”

Whatsoever the ICCR resolutions have to do with the respective tenets of their member denominations is left to the readers’ imagination. (more…)

The progressive politicization of certain religious orders hurries apace, especially as we enter the season of shareholder activism, proxy ballot initiatives and “corporate social responsibility” lectures from religious groups and churches. This year may generate even more activity as a result of the left’s renewed efforts to undermine Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission.

Because many religious organizations are also shareholders in public corporations, their investments grant them a proxy voice in corporate policies. Unfortunately, this voice too often is used to promote policies that are often indistinguishable from secular-left political causes and may have little connection to the tenets of their respective faiths.

One oft-stated goal of these activists is “transparency.” They claim to rectify the perception the Supreme Court ruled erroneously in Citizens United when it declared unconstitutional the placing of limits on corporate and union political spending. But these attempts to pass transparency rules and regulations extend far beyond mere campaign funding by requiring that all corporations publicly divulge the recipients of their charitable giving. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For many nuns in the U.S. April is a busy month. Not only do they have the liturgical season of Easter but they have the proxy season of corporate governance.

The proxy season is the time when many companies hold their annual shareholder meetings. During these meeting any shareholders who own more than $2,000 in stock or 1% of the company can recommend the company take a specific course of action or institute a policy change for the betterment of the company. As the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy reports, Catholic orders are among the most active of these shareholder activists.

As far as activism goes, shareholder activism is rather inert. To date shareholders have introduced only 1.43 proposals per company in the Fortune 200. The most active religious organization, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, submitted a total of 21.

In their lengthy report, the Manhattan Institute (MI) admits that shareholder proposals are rarely submitted, rarely adopted, and submitted by a small group of activists. MI also notes that while the idea that “maximizing share price is the sole fiduciary duty of corporate managers” has been a “long-standing norm in the American securities” there has been push in the past two decades for the idea that “the duty of management ought to extend beyond shareholders and share value to the interests of a broader class of ‘stakeholders.’”

The reality is that management has always taken the “interests of a broader class of ‘stakeholders’” into account when making decisions. Stakeholders include employees, suppliers, the local community, politicians, and—most substantially—the managers themselves. Indeed, you’re more likely to hear about “corporate social responsibility” today than you are “maximizing shareholder wealth.”
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