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Socially responsible investing (SRI) involves the effort of investors committed to making their equities and bonds freer from violations against these investors’ social, moral or environmental “bottom lines.” Depending on the group, various “screens” prohibit investments in companies identified with tobacco, alcohol, gambling or abortion. Others engage in companies regarding issues which pass their “screens.” Others “buy into” such companies in order to challenge them on their practices.
I have been the corporate responsibility agent of my group of Catholic brothers, the Midwest (US) Capuchin Franciscans, since 1973. It was in this capacity, after seeing the penetration of US tobacco companies in Latin America in 1980, we bought 10 shares each of Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds so we could challenge them on their practices. Since then we and other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in New York and other SRI groups, have raised almost every imaginable issue via shareholder resolutions at the US-based tobacco companies, as well as others connected to them (see www.michaelcrosby.net/corporatereform).
My experience of challenging the tobacco companies since 1980 is the same as I testified at the Engle Trial: there have been no real changes. However, we have had some success vis-à-vis our challenges to the “allies” of the tobacco …
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.
Michael Crosby is a Capuchin Franciscan priest living in Milwaukee. He has been Coordinator of the Tobacco Program at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility since 1980.