Posts Tagged ‘racial justice’

Native Land Taxes Reclaim Rights, Power, and the Environment

One of the most prevalent tools of colonialism has been the removal of land and natural resources from the hands of Indigenous peoples. This has led to the cultural, social, and spiritual disenfranchisement of Indigenous peoples and, as Native methods of land stewardship vanish, wide-ranging environmental effects are harming both Native and non-Native communities.

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In the News – Summer 2022

1. SBA FINALLY MEETS DEI The U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2021 report showed that only 18% of early-stage business loans went to women-owned firms, 8% to Hispanic-owned businesses, and 5% to Black-owned businesses. Pre-pandemic numbers were just as bad. Last month the SBA announced additional enhancements to Section 7(a) funding that should help improve its ability to meet “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) goals.
Main Street Journal

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2021 Shareholder Advocacy Review: The Winds at Our Back

Natural Investments remained active in advocacy efforts in the past year to bring about needed improvements to the economic system while fostering equity and justice for women and people of color. We continued to engage major corporations on their policies and practices, funneled more capital to traditionally marginalized populations and educated policymakers about appropriate oversight of the finance industry.

But having a supportive administration in Washington, D.C., which embraced the priorities socially and environmentally responsible investors value, pushed the needle forward significantly.

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Spotlight: Seed Commons

Putting Non-Extractive Finance into Practice

When investors hear the word “cooperative” it should immediately convey the idea of working together toward a common goal. Headquartered in New York City and working in communities across the country, Seed Commons is a cooperative, or democratically run financial organization, that is reimagining finance and lending. It uses non-extractive finance vehicles to support communities to repair their local economies by building businesses that meet community needs.

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Indigenous Representation Matters

In 2007, when I worked at The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF)— The national association for socially responsible investing (SRI) firms and professionals—I became the staff liaison for the Investors and Indigenous Peoples Working Group (IIPWG). One of IPWG’s main  campaigns at the time was asking companies and investors to pressure the owner of the Washington, D.C. professional football team to change its name to anything else that was not a racist slur.

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Invested In Racism – Asset Manager Woke-Washing

So you have money invested with Vanguard, BlackRock, State Street, or Fidelity, and you recently heard that these Asset Managers have failed to utilize their power as large shareholders of publicly traded companies to address structural racism.

You don’t want your money held at, or managed by a Company that is supporting voter suppression and other public policies that cause great harm to communities of color. After all that we have learned about racial injustice in American society, some companies are still, to this day, voting to approve all-white corporate boards of directors, or blocking shareholder efforts to improve corporate disclosures of lobbying activities and political contributions.

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Shareholder Advocacy Review – Winter 2022

We finally get to take some victory laps! After years battling the previous administration, we are finally seeing executive branch actions that roll back its archaic rules and guidance that clearly benefited corporations and not investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for example, recently issued new guidance addressing the criteria by which shareholders may submit proposals to the ballot for a shareholder vote. The guidance restores the original intent of the shareholder submission process in order to reduce the subjectivity of SEC staff interpretations, which typically blow in the political winds depending on which party controls the executive branch.

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Black Economic Self-Determination with Ed Whitfield

Natural Investments hosted a webinar called “Black Economic Self-Determination: To Move Forward We Must Understand The Past” with Ed Whitfield of Seed Commons. Reconstruction, the period that followed the Civil War, was a time when attempts were made to repair our country and our economy from slavery. Reconstruction failed, and set us up for what we are experiencing now–a political, social and economic system based in white supremacy and white nationalist violence. The increasing racial wealth divide exacerbated by COVID, killings of Black people, flagrant racism under Trump, modern day red lining and the January 6th insurrection are all ways that we see and feel the vestiges of failed Reconstruction.

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2020: A Year of Transformation

Crisis and opportunity have an interesting partnership. They don’t always go together, but when they do, they can catalyze powerful change in individuals, countries, and human civilization. Many forces converged in 2020 to create such a dynamic—a global pandemic, heightened attention to racism, extreme weather events and accompanying natural disasters, the disruption of democratic norms by a white supremacist authoritarian president, the proliferation of misinformation and conspiracy theories, and, finally, a historic election.

The year 2020 demanded resilience, and while we surely felt tested on many levels and tried to hold onto our center, many of us found ourselves reflecting on the meaning of life and then acting to change our own lives and work harder to build a just, equitable, and sustainable society.

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Putting Equity at the Center of our Organizational Culture

Natural Investments as a firm has been on its own path of social justice since it began. It’s the core of our mission. And yet in the area of racial equity, we know there is much more that we can and want to accomplish.

Our natural focus is external, in that we are always looking for ways to help clients invest in systems change. But for the past few years, our firm’s rapid growth and circumstances in the bigger world have called on us to look inward—particularly when it comes to racial and gender equity.

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