Investor Advocates for Social Justice

Sr. Pat Daly- Women of Faith in Finance

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In honor of Women’s History Month, IASJ will be featuring a “Women of Faith in Finance” series celebrating four incredible women and their dedication and commitment to the advancement of human rights, climate change solutions, peace, and the common good.

    “We can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing if the planet is going to survive. And her biodiversity. And her people.” These are the prescient words of Patricia Daly, Dominican Sister of Caldwell, NJ, and the subject of today’s “Women of Faith in Finance.”

    Sister Pat Daly chose the Dominicans because “they were very joyful women” and she is known for her humility; thus, listing her accomplishments is not one of her favorite pastimes. But to understand this strong and faithful woman is to know how she’s been working behind the scenes for over thirty years. Sister Pat served as the former Executive Director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, now known as Investor Advocates for Social Justice, and continues to represent her own congregation in shareholder advocacy work with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. A consummate negotiator, Sister Pat has worked with companies on issues of human rights, labor, climate and ecological concerns, militarism, equality, and international debt and capital flows.

    Sister Pat approaches the work with the mind and heart of a Dominican: “Preaching truth is what we’re about. To praise, to bless, to preach. It takes a lot of study, we don’t walk into any issue or concern without trying to understand all perspectives.” This balanced and thorough approach has served her well; amongst her many campaigns, Sister Pat played a role in forcing General Electric to pay for a clean-up of the Hudson River and was a founder of Campaign ExxonMobil, an initiative compelling Exxon to take responsibility for its role in global warming and to make a genuine commitment to the development of sustainable solutions.

    Regarding her many years of climate work, Sister Pat has evolved. “It’s no longer just moving corporations to investments in energy efficiency and climate justice and net-zero, but that investors themselves need to think about sustainable investing.” She counts as one of her most satisfying achievements a grassroots movement started by Dominican women for UN sustainable development goals to be integrated into investment products. “It took us months to find a company that would work with us. When Morgan Stanley came aboard, it was the first time a religious organization and a financial institution truly developed financial products together. It’s about a hundred and eighty million invested and yes, that’s minute in terms of what’s going on with Wall Street, but it is a model for how we need to start shifting the investments in the financial sector.” 

    But it’s when she’s asked about the challenges of being a woman in this field that Sister Pat’s wry sense of humor emerges. “There’s been a great amount of change over the years because of women realizing the critical piece of sustainable finance, but the world of finance is still overwhelmingly male. And white.” She speaks of going toe to toe with Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric and “the Stephen Colbert of the annual meetings.” Welch held court, having fun and making fun of others, but Sister Pat was singularly unimpressed. “There was always a large contingent of retirees at these meetings because even with the big bucks Welch was making, they were not contributing to retirement funds for their employees.” Even in her spiritual life, she bristles at the idea of the patriarchy. “I don’t use the term ‘Kingdom of God’. I prefer ‘The Kin-dom of God’. I try hard not to use language that’s so male.”