Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources for Congregations and Members

PC(USA) corporate engagement committee calls on companies to support workers in COVID-19 crisis


Mission Responsibility Through Investment joins in urging paid leave, maintaining employment, other measures

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Rob Fohr, director of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement for the PC(USA), and Joseph Kinard, chair of the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment, were photographed in February in Baltimore. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (MRTI) has joined nearly 200 signatories on a statement from global institutional investors urging companies to support workers and markets during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment signed on to this statement asking companies to provide paid leave, prioritize health and safety, and maintain employment, customer relationships, and financial prudence during this unprecedented time,” said Rob Fohr, Director of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement. “It is of the utmost importance that publicly-traded companies show leadership as this crisis unfolds and implement robust measures to protect their workers.

“MRTI will work with other faith and values-based investors to ensure that these concerns continue to be raised with corporations.”

The statement breaks down five areas the signatories want investors to focus on, quoted in whole or part:

  1. Provide paid leave: We urge companies to make emergency paid leave available to all employees, including temporary, part time, and subcontracted workers. Without paid leave, social distancing and self-isolation are not broadly possible.
  2. Prioritize health and safety: Protecting worker and public safety is essential for maintaining business reputations, consumer confidence and the social license to operate, as well as to stay operational. … Potential measures include rotating shifts; remote work; enhanced protections, trainings or cleaning; adopting the occupational safety and health guidance; and closing locations, if necessary.
  3. Maintain employment: We support companies taking every measure to retain workers as widespread unemployment will only exacerbate the current crisis. Retaining a well-trained and committed workforce will permit companies to resume operations as quickly as possible once the crisis is resolved. Companies considering layoffs should also be mindful of potential discriminatory impact and the risk for subsequent employment discrimination cases.
  4. Maintain supplier/customer relationships: As much as possible, maintaining timely or prompt payments to suppliers and working with customers facing financial challenges will help to stabilize the economy, protect our communities and small businesses and ensure a stable supply chain is in place for business operations to resume normally in the future.
  5. Financial prudence: During this period of market stress, we expect the highest level of ethical financial management and responsibility. As responsible investors, we recognize this may include companies suspending share buybacks and showing support for the predicaments of their constituencies by limiting executive and senior management compensation for the duration of this crisis.

The statement was organized by Domini Impact Investments LLC, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, and the Office of the New York City Comptroller, Scott M. Stringer. Other faith-based entities signing on to the statement included the Church of England Pensions Board, United Methodist Women, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, more than a dozen associations of Catholic women, and The Episcopal Church (DFMS).

“While we acknowledge many of these recommendations may be out of reach, over the last several years we have seen corporations show leadership by using their power as a force for tremendous good,” the statement concludes. “This leadership is critically needed as we face COVID-19 together.”

The Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment and Office of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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