New York, N.Y. — Who is watching the corporate store?
In the age of President Donald Trump and a Republican-led Congress filled with a zeal for eliminating business regulations, religious-minded investors are doing what they can to fill the watchdog vacuum. They are concerned about low wages, the environment and gun violence, among other issues, participants in a forum sponsored by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) were told at Riverside Church here Oct. 2.
"Religious investors are in a position to tell a moral truth that turns into a business truth," Damon Silvers, policy director and counsel for the AFL-CIO, told the group.
A panel at the event, which brought together ICCR members and boosters, emphasized that "doing the ethical thing" can also help the long-term financial health of large corporations. ICCR has been trying to convince corporate investors and executives of that wider picture for nearly 50 years. The group consists of a wide array of faith groups, including Catholic religious orders.
Recent ICCR actions include shareholder resolutions that pressured Smith and Wesson to find ways to improve gun safety. Adrian Dominican Sr. Judy Byron, a leader in that movement, was honored by the group along with Mercy Sr. Susan Vickers, vice president of corporate responsibility for Dignity Health, the Mercy Sisters' health care system.
While the Trump administration has given corporations a much freer rein, the pressure on businesses to increase wages and work toward a cleaner environment continues.
Ali Velshi, business correspondent for MSNBC and moderator for the panel discussion, said he believes "free markets do great things for people."