Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Not Quite Michael Clayton
This year, in addition to the various other things I was doing, I gave a bit of my time to help in the work of NJCIR (The National Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility). The NJCIR invests in different corporations and then, as stockholders, meets with leaders of those corporations to discuss social justice concerns. I wasn't sure what to expect when I agreed to do the job. But it involved attending a couple of meetings with a corporation in White Plains, NY. Together with some NJCIR regulars and some representatives of partner organizations, we sat down at a table and made our concerns known. I wrote a short reflection on my experience for the NJCIR annual report. Here's some of what I had to say:
As we sat down to our meeting with the agribusiness company, Bunge corporation, there were visions of the film Michael Clayton dancing through my head. Yet, thankfully, the only coincidence was the type of corporation we were dealing with. Tilda Swinton’s ruthless corporate villain was not sitting at the table with us. Instead, there was a rather amiable cast of characters, each willing to listen to our concerns . . .
. . . I always thought that if I were advocating for such things, I’d be living beside the poor in a third world country, not sitting at a corporate conference table in White Plains, NY. Our corporate responsibility efforts are certainly less visible and less romantic than advocating for refugees on the borders of Africa, but no less important. But in the midst of doctoral studies and teaching at Fordham University, it is nice to know that 90 minutes of my time, and a train ride to White Plains can make a contribution to human rights and environmental justice in other parts of the world.
You can find out more about the NJCIR, and read the entirety of my reflection in its annual report, which can be found here.