What Is The Tri-State Coalition? What Are Its Goals?
Interview With Sister Patricia A. Daly, OP Executive Director, Tri-State Coalition
Sister, tell us what the OP stands for, and how long you have been engaged in shareholder activism.
“OP stands for Order of Preachers which was founded by St, Dominick 800 years ago: 2015 is actually the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order. I began attending shareholder meetings in 1977 during my novitiate, and from the beginning, I’ve seen it as part of the preaching and teaching that people of faith should be doing. Shareholders need to be engaged – and need to show up, and be heard – and I think it is well proven that good corporate citizenship will help the bottom line.”
Tell us about the Tri-State Coalition.
“Catholic institutions are all autonomous, so forming a coalition made a lot of sense. 2015 will be our 40th year. We have 40 congregations in the coalition. We provide a voting service for them, we do some other engagement work on behalf of others – and, in addition to the religious congregations, we have some individual supporters.”
Do you think we are witnessing a “New Activism” these days?
“I see a twofold change: Consumers have come to recognize that corporate values and value systems are important drivers of performance. And I’ve been around long enough to see that
companies are increasingly engaging in a way that shows they understand the importance of strong corporate value systems – and who are very happy to work with us. Many of the people we interact with have ‘vocations’ of their own – to take their companies to the next level when it comes to working for the social common good. We also have many people who have retired from business working with us as consultants – helping to formulate and present our proposals. The financial sector, and the academic community have taken note of the business risks that arise when social and environmental issues are not properly addressed. We see business schools offering advanced degrees in sustainability – and in supply-chain management,”
Tell us about your key programs and goals for 2015
Climate change is our number-one issue for 2015. We have a number of programs to raise the bar here in terms of tariff agreements and treaties that would require global political officers to agree to commit to specific carbon reduction goals iu exchange for favorable tariff changes. We are very interested in financial products that would fund carbon reduction, and we plan to host another roundtable on climate finance issues. Human trafficking is another big issue for us – especially in the hospitality sector. It’s not just about sex-trafficking, but about employment sourcing practices. We have a big focus on commodities trading practices that can drive up costs – and especially where food is concerned, Labor is another major area of concern for us. We reached a groundbreaking agreement with ADM – a company that sources foodstuffs from 400,000 sources worldwide – on a global Human Rights Policy. Water is another major area for us. Tyson Foods, for example, developed a groundbreaking policy to deal with runoff from feedlots and processing plants. And Ford Motor developed a very impressive program to reduce waste-water from its plants.
Do you have any particular target industries, going foeward?
No, we try to ‘do it all.’ But I suppose we have had a particulatly keen focus on banks and financial institutions - who seem to really get it now when it comes to climate risk, and to potentially stranded assets.