The Social Investment Forum (SIF) submitted a letter to President Obama listing a series of policy proposals, from proxy access allowing shareholders to nominate board candidates to “say on pay” giving investors a vote on executive compensation. SIF also urges the Obama Administration to establish an Office for Innovation in Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. This idea dates back to the early 2000s, propounded first by Susan Aaronson at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, and supported by a Government Accountability Office report finding major lack of coordination on federal CSR initiatives. SIF CEO Lisa Woll explains the rationale behind the recommendations, and how they will promote advancement toward sustainability.
Corporate Watchdog Radio co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue speak with Laura Berry, executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Founded in 1971, ICCR pioneered the modern practice of shareowner activism by reviving an obscure rule allowing shareowners to file resolutions addressing social and environmental issues at company annual meetings and on their proxies. Now, over three-and-a-half decades later, ICCR is a coalition of about 275 faith-based institutional investors with over $100 billion in assets who filed over 300 resolutions this proxy season.
Berry clarifies common misconceptions about how the ins and outs of shareowner activism. For example, media accounts often report a less-than-majority vote as a “defeat,” when in fact, companies often implement what resolutions request when they receive 20 percent or more support. She also discusses transformations she sees taking place in the corporate social responsibility landscape.
CWR also debuts a new segment with headlines on corporate sustainability developments from the past week, the first in a series of exciting changes to enhance the show.
Corporate Watchdog Radio co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue attended the Summit on the Future of the Corporation in mid-November in Boston, a gathering to consider a fundamental re-design to integrate sustainability into the corporate structure. There, Rheannon interviewed two prominent thought-leaders: Michael Marx of Corporate Ethics International and the Business Ethics Network, and John Elkington of SustainAbility, who’s been called the dean of the corporate responsibility movement. Rheannon speaks with Marx about how NGOs are winning battles but losing the war when it comes to changing corporate behavior. NGOs and advocacy organizations can better motivate corporations to be more sustainable by re-framing economic issues within a moral context, Marx contends. Elkington flips this formula on its head, and advocates for going beyond moral suasion to showing companies how their economic self-interest coincides with sustainability.
This show continues CWR’s series which also includes interviews with Summit organizers Allen White, Majorie Kelly, Peter Senge, and Joe Laur.
Many of today’s corporations behave like irresponsible teenagers, according to Terry Mollner, a founder of Calvert Funds and Board member of Ben and Jerry’s. Mollner discusses his ideas about maturing the corporation to make the good of society a priority. He also discusses the behind the scenes story of the Ben & Jerry’s buyout, and the need for a broader strategy to retain corporate social responsibility in the face of buyouts and mergers.