July 16, 2018, New York, New York – Adrian Dominican Sister Judy Byron, OP, along with Sister Susan Vickers, RSM, will receive the 2018 Legacy Award from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) during a special event on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, in New York City. Both are being recognized for providing “a strong moral foundation and an enduring record of demonstrated influence on corporate policies.”
Sister Judy, a member of ICCR since 1998, is the director of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment and the program director of the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC) in Seattle, Washington. She is a consultant for the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB), serves on the Board of Mercy Housing Northwest (MHNW) and served on ICCR’s board from 2002 to 2005.
“Sister Judy Byron is tireless in her compassion, and passion, for justice,” said Margaret Weber, a colleague at the PAB. “Her light is steady and unwavering. She keeps a social justice lens ‘at the ready’ for critical moments in time for the shareholder voice. Judy’s leadership on the gun safety shareholder proposal at Sturm Ruger is illustrative of how she sees a moment in time and acts on it.”
Rev. Séamus Finn, Chair of the Board for ICCR, spoke of the “profound impact” that both Sister Judy and Sister Susan have on the work of ICCR. “Judy’s quiet yet persistent presence consistently brings a clear social justice voice into our meetings and conversations,” he said. “She never fails to remind companies – and all of us – about the impact policies and decisions have on local communities and on the lives of people who are frequently ignored or excluded.”
“What I’m very aware of in my corporate responsibility work is that this is truly a collaborative work,” Sister Judy said. “I don’t think this award is so much for me as a recognition of the difference that faith-based shareholders are making and that we in the Northwest have been able to make in the social and environmental issues we’ve addressed – gun safety, health equity, human rights, human trafficking, and climate change. Together, we’ve been a moral voice, working to create a just and sustainable global community.”
For Sister Judy, one of the challenges of corporate responsibility ministry is the scope of the justice issues that need to be brought to corporate boardrooms. “Our challenge is to prioritize which issues and companies we should engage, so that we can transform these corporations,” she said. “We focus on industry leaders, who can, in turn, change the direction of entire industries.”
She gave the example of ICCR’s work with the pharmaceutical industry to move them to make their HIV/AIDS medicines available to more people, especially those in low-income countries. “When we approached them in 2000, their medicines were available to a miniscule number of people in low- and middle-income countries,” she explained. “After our dialogue with them, they really stepped up and now millions of people are receiving treatment.” Most significantly,” she said, “faith-based shareholders engaged Gilead Sciences, who is now the leader in providing treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries.
“Our strength is that we are faith-based shareholders,” Sister Judy explained. “We bring a collective moral voice to the companies. We say that ‘We are inspired by faith and committed to action.’ And I would add, action for the common good.”
March 13, 2018, Seattle, Washington – Faith-based shareholders – including the Adrian Dominican Sisters and other congregations of women religious – have found some success in their long-term campaign to work with gun manufacturers and dealers to reduce gun violence in the United States.
In the spring of 2016, Adrian Dominican Sister Judy Byron, OP, met with a group of faith-based members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) to address the issue of gun safety. In response, 15 religious communities, including the Adrian Dominican Sisters, bought stock in gun manufacturers Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands, and retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods so that they could work with these companies to reduce the availability of guns.
The faith-based investors requested a dialogue with the three companies. As a result of their discussions, Dick’s Sporting Goods decided to stop selling assault weapons in their stores. Because the other two companies did not respond to their request, the investors filed shareholder resolutions asking that the companies issue reports by February 2019 on their “activities related to gun safety measures and the mitigation of harm associated with products produced by the company.”
Sister Judy said that when the issue of gun safety was brought up two years ago, “we never wanted to be where we are today, grieving our children and teachers who were murdered and wounded at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day. But we are here, and we are being led by the young people who are demanding that we take action to end gun violence.”
The religious communities’ work with the corporations is one example of the corporate responsibility work of organizations such as the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB). The PAB is also involved in community investment, granting low-interest loans to non-profit organizations that address the needs of local communities.
For more on the efforts in the area of gun violence, read the CNBC article and the report by the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center.