The resentment between Occupy Wall Street protestors and corporate America has certainly grown in the past couple of weeks. Each day we learn new information about what the protestors want and what Wall Street has no intention of doing.
It turns out Wall Street is also getting an earful from its investors, including the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Sister Nora Nash, OSF, head of the community's Corporate Social Responsibility mission, recently featured in an article in the business section of the New York Times, actively weighs in on corporate America's practices. A soft-spoken woman, Nash has been quite vocal in offering suggestions to some of the world's largest corporations.
”We want social returns, as well as financial ones,” says Nash. “When you look at the major financial institutions, you have to realize there is greed involved.”
Nash and her community formed a corporate responsibility committee beck in the 1980s after they had lost some of their retirement in the market. They wanted to vocalize the importance of wise investments and fiscal responsibility not only within their own community but also within some of Wall Street's major corporations. Their goal as a committee was to buy the minimum number of shares that would allow them to submit resolutions at a company's annual shareholder meeting.
The group advises executives to protect consumers, rein in executive pay, increase transparency within corporations, and remember the poor.
The Sisters of St. Francis are not going it alone. They have teamed up with the Sisters of Charity Saint Elizabeth and Sisters of St. Dominic (Caldwell Dominicans), both in New Jersey, and many other Christian denominations and religious faiths. They are active in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
“Companies have learned over time that the issues we’re bringing are not frivolous,” says Fr. Seamus P. Finn, a Washington-based priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and a board member of the Interfaith Center. “At the end of every transaction, there are people that are either positively or negatively impacted, and we try to explain that to them.”
The goal of the group is not to bring corporations down, but to get these companies to become more responsible for their actions and be held accountable for their practices. Although success has been sporadic, the sisters believe in their mission.
Click here to read more about the Sisters of Philadelphia's corporate engagement.