As You Sow is a non-profit foundation that utilizes shareholder advocacy to force corporations to be more responsible in their business. They have had remarkable successes with big corporations and the type of change they have been involved in can have huge rippling effects through sectors and society. Joining us on the show is Sarah Milne, Vice President of Advancement at As You Sow, and she is here to share some of the strategy and action that has allowed the organization to achieve these wins. We talk about how they apply pressure in order for shifts to happen and the idea of putting shares in a company to good use. Sarah underlines the values of ‘safe, just, and sustainable’ as a foundation for what we should be requiring of corporations, and we also get into her idea of creating a better capitalist reality.
Our guest believes strongly that government action is vital on big issues such as climate change and that without legislative change, we will be unable to shift the tide. Listeners can expect to hear about what it takes to stay committed to incremental change, the efficacy of reports, and moving beyond important words in vital actions. Sarah gives us such a great picture of what it means to work for good within the confines of huge companies and political powers, and her steadfastness and drive is truly inspiring. Listen at one of the below links to hear the full episode:
Key Points From This Episode
How change (often) works in governments & large corporations
The short answer? Incrementally. For an organization like As You Sow, patience is key. You can’t always get change from an industry directly, so it’s about looking for the right pressure points.
- Ex: When As You Sow wanted to get poultry producers to stop using medical-grade antibiotics in their meat — they went to the three largest consumers of Poultry in the United States: Wendy’s, McDonald’s and KFC. Without them, they would have had no leverage.
Why you should invest in your values
The money you invest is often funding things you probably don’t know about or agree with. If we want to move our country’s capital into funding a cleaner, better future that most of us want, we need to pay attention to where our money goes and grows. As You Sow created six different tools so that you can check and see what your money is funding.
For example, Fossilfreefunds.org scans the most commonly held mutual funds in the U.S. and tells you what percentage of funds are in coal, oil, etc. It will grade the funds on their investment in these industries, and you can use it to make a more informed decision on where you put your money.
How to move between careers in opposite fields
There is no one correct path. Sarah worked at Chevron before science discovered climate-change many years ago, and now she actively works to push them to better practices from the outside. For her, this journey came from raising her children and caring for her aging parents. When it came time to return to work, her perspective had changed. To find her interests, she paid attention to what articles she chose to read in the newspaper for several months. They all had to do with the environment. So, she went back to school at 50 and pivoted fields. Her advice? Never be afraid to change paths and try something new.
“We work very hard to create and maintain a mutually respectful working relationship with the companies and with the people that we talk with at the companies.” — Sarah Milne [0:06:14]
“When we go into a corporate engagement or dialogue, we have evidence and we are asking for actions that based on data and evidence.” — Sarah Milne [0:15:57]
“Our internal belief is that the financial industry makes things obscure and hard to understand because that keeps them in control.” — Sarah Milne [0:20:43]
“The easier it is to grasp, the more people will take action.” — Sarah Milne [0:21:23]
Coming Up Next
In need of some good tidings to break up the negativity on your feed? Next week we’ll hear from Branden Harvey, who runs a physical newspaper called Good Good Good. The Goodnewspaper focuses on good news, looking for people and ideas that are changing the world for the better. Be sure to listen next week for a dose of optimism and lots of great anecdotes. Subscribe here for a smile:)
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode
Benjamin Von Wong
As You Sow
As You Sow Email
Episode 13 of Impact Everywhere
Fossil Free Funds
Good Good Good Newspaper