As an active shareholder, Mercy Investment Services has the opportunity to engage companies around the world on a variety of issues. While many of these are ongoing engagements, having a seat at the table allows us to respond to current events, as they develop, that impact companies and their employees, suppliers and communities.
In early March, as documented cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States, Mercy Investment Services and other faith-based investors looked at what was happening, our relationship with companies, and our potential role in this crisis. First, staff reached out with prayers and concern for hard-hit industries such as the travel and tourism sector. At the same time, we shared the Investor Statement on Coronavirus Response, developed thru ICCR with our partners around the globe, which asks companies to continue to make decisions based on their employees, supply chain, and customers. In response, some companies have offered to meet with shareholders on the issues.
With COVID-19 forcing companies to move annual meetings – a key event at which investors vote on shareholder resolutions – to a virtual format, investors are asking companies to foster shareholder participation and archive the meeting. The Statement on Shareholder Participation and Virtual Annual Meetings During Coronavirus Crisis comes from ICCR and the Shareholder Rights Group.
Other work includes asking pharmaceutical companies to take necessary steps to accelerate development of diagnostics, treatments and a vaccine; advocating for fair pay for workers in the apparel and high-tech supply chains as supplier shut down factories; advocating for sick leave and safety/personal protective equipment for workers in the retail, grocery and hospitality sectors; and health and safety for U.S. farmworkers.
Mercy Investment Services will continue to use our relationships with companies to address concerns this virus has caused. In every case, Mercy Investment Services will frame the engagements in care and concern with a particular focus on those most disenfranchised.