Jesuit SRI History
U.S. Jesuits and Socially Responsible Investment
The Society of Jesus in the United States is actively involved today in Socially Responsible investing (SRI) initiating shareholder resolutions and choosing investment opportunities on the basis of the potential to “do good while doing well.” We set down this road in earnest in 1974, when the U.S. Jesuit Conference formed the Jesuit Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility (JACIR). This committee worked to get the U.S. provinces to vote their proxies from the substantial portfolios they managed, comprised primarily of endowment monies for seminary training.
By the 1980s, some of the U.S. Jesuit provinces — most notably Maryland, New York and Detroit — were involved with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) in stockholder activism. Although most of the activity came from the social ministry people at the province and national levels, some of the most proactive voices were province financial officers: the late Fr. Dave Meier, S.J. at the Jesuit Conference, Fr. Henry Chamberlain, S.J., and today, William Lockyear, the lay CFO of the Oregon Province.
Much has happened in the Society of Jesus and in the corporate world in the 25 years since the U.S. provinces were first involved in stockholder activism. In the early days, Jesuits involved in social ministry on occasion found themselves at odds with their province treasurers, who were reluctant to support stockholder activism. Today, half the member of the NJCIR are province treasurers or their lay assistants. More recently, there is a growing awareness of the value of a more collaborative relationship between socially active investors and corporation management- in large part because prioritizing social justice enhances the corporation’s reputation and increases profits for all. Wall Street is slowly learning the lesson.
– Excerpt from In All Things, Fall/Winter, 2002