In a new article, These Churches Buy Shares in Gun Companies - Their Goal: Confront Them, Institutional Investor looks into how corporate engagement is impacting change.
The article profiles the shareholder advocacy of several faith-based ICCR members, including Praxis Mutual Funds®, the mutual fund family of Everence®.
Praxis engages with 20 to 30 companies per year, on average, in an effort to change some of their practices, said Vice President of Stewardship Investing Mark Regier.
Socially responsible investing doesn’t only mean avoiding companies whose products or methods are offensive. It also can mean investing in those same companies to gain a foothold – and a voice – as a shareholder.
Several religious organizations, for example, have invested in firearms companies, tobacco companies and others to press their recommendations for change through shareholder resolutions.
Regier said Praxis has pushed for chocolate companies such as Hershey and Mondelez International to find ways to avoid using forced child labor on cocoa farms in Africa. That dialogue has focused on helping cocoa farmers diversify their income so they can support their families without child slavery.
Other recent campaigns involved issues like toxic chemicals and climate change.
“While companies never come to these conversations with terrible excitement, they eventually get what is at stake,” Regier said. “Eventually they have staff that are very invested in these projects.”
Praxis Mutual Funds is a longtime ICCR member and has participated in several successful shareholder advocacy efforts, including climate change with oil companies and utilities, ethical labor recruitment across many industries and gun violence.
For nearly 50 years, ICCR members have engaged hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster improved performance on issues such as human rights, climate change, corporate water stewardship, sustainable food production, and health equity.