The Franciscan Sisters of Mary are active owners of our portfolio companies, using our power as shareholders to hold corporations accountable for their social and environmental policies and practices.
Shareholder voting is the primary means by which shareholders can influence the company’s or mutual fund’s operations, its corporate governance and even activities of social responsibility that may fall outside of financial considerations. FSM’s proxy votes are cast so companies take responsible action on issues such as climate change, human rights in the supply chain, stewardship of water, environmental health, sustainable agriculture, corporate governance, lobbying and political spending, global and domestic health, justice in the financial sector, and the militarization of society.
Collaboration with Others
FSM is a member of the Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investing (MCRI), a regional group of other faith- and values-based organizations. With its MCRI partners, FSM engages companies through dialogue and joint shareholder resolutions to bring about change in company policy and practice. Examples include:
Since 2011, FSM in collaboration with MCRI has been working with Monsanto Company to encourage more responsible use of water, both globally and regionally, by recycling water and reducing the amounts used. In 2014 Monsanto became the first agriculture company to sign the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) pledge, through which the company commits to providing employees with access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene wherever the company is operating.
In April 2016, FSM and other MCRI members, supported by Sierra Club and AsYouSow, voted on a resolution urging Ameren to adopt a more aggressive strategy for increasing its use of renewable energy (wind, solar, hydroelectric power) rather than depending so strongly on coal for energy production. Missouri remains the second-highest state in coal consumption. As of 2016, Ameren, as the largest utility in Missouri, was producing only 1 percent of its power through renewable energy; other smaller utilities in the state were ranging from 4 to 35 percent in their use of renewable energy. According to Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standard passed in 2008, Ameren was to have increased its use of renewable energy to 5 percent of its total by 2014 and 10 percent by 2018, with an ultimate goal of 70 percent use of renewable energy by 2050. Ameren has failed to achieve any of its benchmarks so far. Shareholders remain committed to urging Ameren to improve its record on environmental issues, most especially by reducing its dependence on dirty coal for energy production.