New Corporate Democracy Body
29 May 2013 at 9:49 am
One of the founders of the newly-established Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) says Australian shareholders have an untapped potential to improve their own long-term returns and make the world a better place.
ACCR co-founder Howard Pender said at the launch event for the new Not for Profit, that shareholders can have considerable power and the organisation planned to help them discover it.
‘It’s not always right to pass the buck to the Government. Shareholders can put their mouth where their money is by speaking directly to the boards of companies they hold shares in,” Pender said.
World Vision chief, Tim Costello was in Canberra to help launch the ACCR.
‘What I love about the newly-established ACCR is that it will provide (shareholders) with a completely different opportunity to make a positive contribution by persuading the companies in their portfolios to work with us, not against us,” Costello said.
Pender, who has had 25 years experience in the ethical investment arena in Australia, and his co founder, Robert Howell say they have long admired the work of the Interfaith Centre for Corporate (ICCR) Responsibility in the US.
“The ICCR has, for over 40 years, researched, advocated and lobbied, using direct engagement with companies and collective shareholder power. Its reputation for integrity is such that it even boasts US state governments among its members,” Pender said.
“It is, for instance, no small achievement that ICCR members’ actions led to Exxon Mobile ceasing their funding of global warming deniers.
“In Australia the ACCR will, similarly, become a respected vehicle for the exercise of citizen power. It can become just as important as the casting of a vote in a democratic election.”
Howell said the ACCR aims to promote ethical investment and in particular, shareholder engagement and advocacy with the aim that corporate activity assists humanity live more justly and within the capacity of supporting ecosystems.
The establishment group of the ACCR (www.accr.org.au) also includes Elizabeth Cham who headed Philanthropy Australia for ten years , funds manager, John McKinnon and Jill Sutton who writes on social justice issues.