US socially responsible and faith investors call on executives to resist Trump’s immigrant ban

Controversial Executive Order undermines respect for human rights, investors say

A group of 64 SRI and faith investors and human rights groups in the US has issued a strongly worded letter to business executives calling on them to resist President Trump’s controversial executive order restricting entry for refugees, immigrants, and documented residents from selected countries.

The letter has been sent to the 19 leading corporate figures such as JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, BlackRock’s Larry Fink and GM’s Mary Barra who are members of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, which holds its first meeting today (February 3). The forum is chaired by Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of private equity group Blackstone.

Signatories to the letter include the likes of John Streur at Calvert Research and Management, Sonia Kowal at Zevin Asset Management and Geeta Aiyer of Boston Common Asset Management (see list below).

The letter calls on the executives to “speak out strongly” against the ban, which they say “undermines respect for human rights and the lives of workers and their families in the US and beyond”.

More broadly, the investors want the executives to work with Trump to “ensure respect for the human rights of workers, regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, immigration status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, at home and in global value chains”.

And they urge the US government to work with other nations to align corporate policies and practices with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“This means making the business case for sustainability, including by developing common metrics to track performance consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other international standards, as well as policies to push financial markets and drive industry-wide progress including with respect to greater investment in sustainable infrastructure needed to deliver on the global goals.

“We therefore urge you, as business leaders accountable to your customers, employees, and shareholders, to show leadership and to use your influence to ensure that human rights are promoted not only through your business activities but through your engagement with the federal government.”

The letter was coordinated by the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).“I hold especially dear the values of inclusion and tolerance that make America great,” said Bashar Qasem, CEO of Virginia-based Islamic investment firm Azzad Asset Management, a signatory to the letter.

“Many of our clients are immigrants who have been fortunate to live the American dream. We lose something fundamental to our identity as a beacon of hope to the world when we exclude people on the basis of nationality or religion.”

Selected signatories:

  • John Streur, Calvert Research and Management
  • Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA
  • Mary Beth Gallagher, Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment
  • Sonia Kowal, Zevin Asset Management
  • Judy Byron, Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment
  • Phil Bloomer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
  • Michael Crosby, Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment
  • Cathy Rowan, Maryknoll Sisters
  • Bashar Qasem, Azzad Asset Management
  • Judy Beals, Oxfam America
  • Bennett Freeman, Global Witness
  • Ethel Howley, School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investment Fund
  • Seamus Finn, OIP Trust
  • Patricia Zerega, Mercy Investment Services, Inc.
  • Adam Kanzer, Domini Impact Investments LLC
  • Luan Jenifer, Miller/Howard Investments, Inc.
  • Catherine Cartier, Progressive Asset Management
  • Jo Marie Chrosniak, Region VI Coalition for Responsible Investment
  • Geeta Aiyer, Boston Common Asset Management
  • Rob Fohr, Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
  • Richard Walters, The Pension Boards-UCC, Inc.
  • Jeffery W. Perkins, Friends Fiduciary Corporation
  • Barbara Jennings, Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment