Pope Francis notes that when humans place themselves “at the center” of existence, we often see their efforts focused on delivering convenience and the slow drift to a “misguided lifestyle” – one that favors only what serves one’s “immediate interests” and leads ultimately to “social decay.”
“The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labor on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests.” (123)
CBIS and our participants have long sought to counter this through our ongoing Catholic Responsible Investing℠ work. For example, we’ve worked with companies in the hotel industry to end the availability of pornographic materials (that exploit adults and children) in their facilities and to develop policies and procedures that will help put an end to human trafficking. Marriott eliminated access to pornographic content in 2009 and this week, Hilton announced a policy change to remove on-demand pornographic videos from all of its properties, worldwide. CBIS has spoken with a number of companies in the hospitality industry about this important topic, and the changes implemented by Marriott and Hilton serve as a source of inspiration of what can be achieved with shareholder engagement. In addition, we worked with the Wyndham Hotel Group in 2014 to adopt a new training program for their employees on how to spot sex traffickers.
We believe our efforts help contribute to the common good in ways not typically addressed by most asset managers. Screening is a critical component to a strong responsible investing program, by filtering companies that operate counter to Catholic beliefs, but CBIS takes a more holistic approach by combining screening with active ownership – i.e., accepting the responsibility that as shareholders we must actively challenge the status quo in order to defend the “objective truth.”
Check back on our website frequently for our ongoing posts on the encyclical, and for updates on when we will publish our full analysis on Laudato si’.
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