United States
Global finance with a nun’s heart, so as to protect the environment

Patricia Daly

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03 September 2022

She convinced General Electric to clean up the US Hudson River out of its own pocket, investing billions of dollars to remove tons of polluting waste dumped there by the company. She succeeded in leading the oil company Exxon towards new forms of environmental sustainability and with a $2 billion portfolio, she made Apple tremble. Sister Patricia Daly sits elbow to elbow on the boards of directors of companies with impressive turnovers and an often silent but effective role, which is using her own stock portfolio to steer corporate policies towards fighting climate change and protecting the environment. The shares are not her own, of course, but belong to Catholic faith investors who want to use their economic muscle in favour of human rights and the environment.  The portfolio has been brought together by the US-based Investor Advocates for Social Justice, which until 2019 was called the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investments, founded at the time of African apartheid to push the then government to outlaw discrimination against black people. Sister Daly has been executive director of Tri-cri in recent years, and with resounding results. She says she handles finance with the heart of a Dominican nun, which is her congregation. Her most important goal, she says, was to get the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals included in the investment products offered by the powerful holding companies of finance, which are not normally steeped in ethics. “It took us months to find a company that would work with us. Morgan Stanley is the first financial institution to develop investment products with a religious organisation. It is $180 million, which is not a huge amount, but it’s a model for Wall Street and for companies around the world”, she said. As a member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Sister Daly also professes her enormous esteem for women even within the Church, so much so that she changes her biblical and evangelical language; “I try not to use words that are too masculine”, she explained at a “Women of Faith in Finance” conference in New York last October. Because women’s strength and spirit are custodians of care for the environment and Creation, and have proven to be the right key to begin to change one of the most stubbornly predatory industries in the world, global finance. (laura eduati)