Two Presbyterian ministries urge opposition to proposed SEC rule

The new regulation would limit faith-based investors’ ability to bring concerns to corporations

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service
Wall Street

The Presbyterian Committee Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) and Office of Public Witness are calling on Presbyterians to speak out against a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would limit the power of small investors to file shareholder proposals and bring concerns to corporate managers and boards. (Photo by Getty Images/Eyfoto)

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness (OPW) is calling on members of the church to speak out against a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would limit the power of small investors to file shareholder proposals and bring concerns to corporate managers and boards.

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) has been a driving force in shareholder advocacy and corporate engagement since the early 1970s,” the action alert from the Capitol Hill-based ministry reads, in part. “We use our power as shareholders in publicly-held corporations to bring issues and concerns to the forefront of companies. Our ability, as faith-based investors, to file shareholder proposals and hold corporations accountable for their actions is now being compromised.”

The Action Alert was crafted in collaboration with the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) through the Office of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement, which implements General Assembly policies on socially responsible investing by engaging with corporations in which the investing agencies of the church hold shares.

“As people of faith who invest in the marketplace, the ability to advance our values through shareholder advocacy is our compromise with the market,” says Rob Fohr, director of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement. “Due to these proposed rule changes, our ability to function within that compromise is being compromised.”

In the alert, OPW and MRTI pushed back against the notion that the rule is needed to insulate corporations from frivolous proposals.

“There are already robust rules in place guiding the shareholder proposal process that work well and keep frivolous proposals at bay,” the Action Alert states. “This is a blatant attempt to insulate companies from accountability to their shareholders.”

The rule is open for public comment until Feb. 3, and OPW is providing a sample comment for people who would like to use it.

The Office of Public Witness and Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment are Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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