SGI Celebrates 50 Years. Milwaukee, WI – On September 12th, the Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment (SGI) will celebrate fifty years of service for people and the planet. Founded in 1973 by pioneers in corporate shareholder engagement, Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M., Cap., Sr. Alphonsa Puls, S.S.S.F., and Sr. Charlita Foxhoven, S.S.S.F., SGI members have engaged multinational corporations to promote more sustainable and just practices for five decades.
SGI Celebrates 50 Years: Agenda
The 50th Anniversary Celebration will take place at SGI’s annual conference on Tuesday, September 12th, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at St. Francis Parish, located at 1937 N. Vel R. Phillips Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53212. There is also an option to attend virtually. Get tickets.
While recognizing the landmark achievements of the organization under Fr. Crosby and its co-founders, the conference will also focus forward on how Milwaukee-based SGI is working to shape better outcomes at corporations in the 2020s and beyond.
According to Christopher Cox, SGI’s executive director:
Fifty years later, our mandate remains as relevant as ever. Old problems have metamorphosed. New ones have arisen. Similarly, our toolbox and our responses must evolve accordingly. In that way we remain true to our mission and our founders.
The conference will include two-panel conversations and a keynote from Tim Smith of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). (CorpGov note: Tim is greatly responsible for my early interest in corporate governance in the late 1970s and early 1980s.)
The first panel, led by SGI members, will look back over SGI’s first fifty years, and the second will discuss the evolution and future of responsible and sustainable investing. This panel will include William Burkhart, CEO of The Investor Integration Project, Rev. Kirsten Snow Spalding, Vice President of Ceres, and Josh Zinner, CEO of ICCR. In addition, Dan Tretow, the member representative for the School Sisters of St. Francis (S.S.S.F.), will receive the 2023 Fr. Mike Crosby Award.
SGI Celebrates 50 Years: Fr. Michael Crosby & SGI Member Accomplishments
From SGI’s inception, Fr. Mike aided faith groups to ensure their investments reflect their beliefs and values rather than inadvertently funding activities that conflict with those values. While smaller faith groups face particular obstacles given the complexity and challenges of investing, SGI has proven to be low-cost and efficient as members implement faith-consistent investing with limited resources. SGI was the first coalition to join ICCR to enhance its shareholder advocacy for systemic change.
Fr. Mike was a pioneer in this work, as have been our members:
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution with American Home Products, followed by Bristol Myers and Nestle, to launch a campaign highlighting the connection between increased formula use and rising infant mortality rates in developing countries (1974).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution supporting indigenous rights with Shell (1975).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first political spending disclosure resolution with ITT (1976).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution on high U.S. drug prices at SmithKline (1976).
- Midwest Capuchins filed a resolution with Bankers Trust for its lending to a Latin American military dictatorship (1978).
- Midwest Capuchins launched a campaign concerning tobacco with Philip Morris (1981).
- Grand Rapids Dominicans file first resolution calling for package reduction & recycling with General Mills (1994).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution concerning global warming with Exxon (1997).
- Midwest Capuchins filed the first resolution raising concerns about human rights violations in China at Boeing (1997).
SGI Celebrates 50 Years: Looking Ahead
SGI’s impact continues to grow as more investors support our members’ work to catalyze corporate change. In 2022, SGI member proposals broke records in terms of sheer volume (59), or about 21% of all ESG-related proposals filed that year. Also last year, three earned majority votes at annual meetings (a racial justice audit at Johnson & Johnson, a civil rights audit at Altria, and a lobbying alignment report at Gilead), while 30% of our proposals were withdrawn due to productive dialogues that led to agreements with companies.
SGI board president Cindy Bohlen of Riverwater Partners put it this way:
While c takes many forms today, what strikes me is that the members of SGI have known all along that prosperity for all depends on resilient people and planet.
As interest in ESG and socially responsible investing has grown, SGI occupies an important space, bringing a moral voice, especially the voices of those most impacted by corporate practices, into our dialogues with companies. The participation of those most vulnerable is critical if we are to create an equitable economy that works for everyone.
Though we are a small organization, we have had an outsized impact. It may seem like a big challenge for us to have a meaningful impact in all these areas, but the accomplishments we have witnessed since our founding five decades ago have shown that almost anything is possible when we work together.
SGI’s 50-year track record promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility and facilitating values-aligned investing spans many of the most urgent environmental and social issues facing people today, including climate change, economic inequality, racial justice, workplace diversity, political spending and lobbying disclosure, and executive compensation.
Christopher Cox, Tim Smith, and Cindy Bohlen are available for interviews in advance of the conference or at 3:30 p.m. the day of the conference.
About Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment
Guest Post courtesy of Christopher Cox, SGI’s executive director. Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment (SGI) is a coalition of faith and values-driven institutional investors who view the management of their investments as a powerful catalyst for social change. Our membership comprises 34 organizations, including faith-based organizations and socially responsible asset management companies located in the Mid-Western United States.
SGI is not an investment advisor, nor do we provide financial planning, legal or tax advice. The content of our programming, publications, and presentations is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered as information sufficient upon which to base any decisions on investing, purchases, sales, trades, or any other investment transactions. We do not express an opinion on the future or expected value of any security or other interest and do not explicitly or implicitly recommend or suggest an investment strategy of any kind.
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