As the Post and other Occupy Wall Street detractors know, it's easy to dismiss protesters when they're young, vocal, and occasionally law-breaking. But trying to get charges of impudence and ignorance to stick to nuns is a little tougher. The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia have been taking their message of corporate responsibility to board rooms years before anyone pitched a tent in Zuccotti Park, and even if the businessmen they talk to don't heed their advice, they're at least obliged to listen. "You're not going to get any sympathy for cutting off a nun at your annual meeting," a leader of a shareholder firm tells the Times.
The nuns, led by Director of Corporate Responsibility Sister Norah Nash, have pleaded their case for protecting consumers, lowering executive pay and donating to the poor to executives since 1980. Goldman Sachs, McDonalds, Wells Fargo and BP are among the many companies who have gotten an earful. "We want social returns, as well as financial ones," Sister Nora says. "When you look at the major financial institutions, you have to realize there is greed involved."
To get the executives to listen to them, the Sisters purchase the minimum amount of stock ($2,000) so they can submit resolutions during shareholders meetings. The executives can avoid a PR disaster if they simply meet with the nuns, and the former chief executive of GE even took a helicopter to their convent to discuss the company's nuclear weapons development programs. "We're not here to put corporations down," Sister Nora says, "We're here to improve their sense of responsibility."
We contacted the Sisters of St. Francis to see what they thought about the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the Church's role in shaming corporations where the SEC or federal government hasn't, and not surprisingly, Sister Nora's been inundated with media requests. A representative writes,
"She asked me to relay her sincere gratitude stating, “Thanks to all and each of you who inspire us each day to achieve the social impacts that will make our world a better place.”