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First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist (UU) made an immediate
splash last fall in the socially responsible investing movement weeks after
transferring its endowment assets to Walden Asset Management, a socially
responsible investment firm in Boston. The congregation's first
co-filing of a shareholder resolution with other concerned investors last
November immediately prompted leading medical device producer Stryker
Corporation to amend its hiring policy to explicitly ban discrimination in
hiring on the basis of sexual orientation. The success was perhaps most
significant as a rare example of a UU congregation acting as a public filer of a
resolution, rather than having the socially responsible management company vote
shares or file on their behalf but remain anonymous.
While this was positive step for civil rights, it also brings Stryker closer
to basic principles of smart capitalism. Paul J. Morgan, chair of the
congregation's Board of Investments, put it this way: "We are firm believers in
equal opportunity and the power of markets. The efficiency and
effectiveness of the economy and individual organizations depend on the ability
of individuals to achieve career and personal success based upon their
individual merit, fitness to the organization, capability, work ethic and
personal choices. As investors we are the owners of companies, and we have
a right to expect management to act in our interest; that's why we pay
them. To the extent that the most qualified applicant for a position might
be of a minority sexual orientation, not hiring that person would be a drag on
profits and expose the company to lawsuits. Stryker agreed with us.
We will continue to press less enlightened corporations to see the light and
urge other congregations to make the switch to proactive socially responsible
Church of New York, UU was also a
co-filer on this resolution. Community Church has been the lone UU congregation
engaged in shareowner advocacy. Now First Parish Cambridge has joined the
effort. Congratulations to both congregations!
For more information contact responsibleinvesting @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Friday, June 17, 2011.
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