For our Fifth Annual Activist Conference, the Business Ethics Network hosted a bi-coastal conference linked together via video and telephone-conferencing. This exciting new approach enabled more BEN members from both coasts to attend.
BEN activists engaged in thoughtful and dynamic dialogue throughout the course of the conference, and the net result was a thorough list of themes and action items for 2010.
New and veteran campaigners alike were alternately challenged and inspired by the scope of the work ahead, and left the day renewed and re-focused for another year of creative campaigning and successful legislative strategies.
2009 BENNY Awards
BEN organizes the awards to celebrate the victories and achievements of corporate campaign activists. Activists who are Members of BEN nominate and vote on campaigns for the BENNY and Path to Victory Awards. BEN Advisory Committee and staff choose recipients of the Individual Achievement Award. BEN is pleased to have awarded the following recipients for their outstanding work in 2009.
Leslie Lowe is the Director of ICCR’s program on Energy and the Environment. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) builds a more just and sustainable world by integrating social values into corporate and investor actions.
Leslie serves on the Boards of Directors of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, Environmental Advocates of New York, the Center for Economic and Environmental Partnership, Housing Works, Inc., and is a Trustee of The Weeksville Society. She introduced her colleague and winner of the Individual Achievement Award, Sister Pat Daly (Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment).
The TRI-State Coalition for Responsible Investment (CRI) is an alliance of Roman Catholic institutional investors primarily located throughout the New York metropolitan area. Members utilize their power as shareholders to hold corporations accountable to social and environmental concerns. In making decisions about managing resources and investments, Coalition members view local and global economies not only in terms of production and distribution, but also by their effects on the environment and the dignity of the human person.
2009 BENNY Award Winners
Tie for 1st Place:
Lead Groups: Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Founding Members of the Alliance for Fair Food (Presbyterian Church (USA), National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, Student/Farmworker Alliance, Interfaith Action), Just Harvest USA
The logic behind the Campaign for Fair Food is simple. Major corporate buyers — companies such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, Aramark, and Sodexo — purchase a tremendous volume of fruits and vegetables, leveraging their buying power to demand the lowest possible prices from their suppliers. This, in turn, exerts a powerful downward pressure on wages and working conditions in these suppliers’ operations.
Tie for 1st Place:
Lead Group: Breast Cancer Action
Our online campaign called on General Mills, the manufacturer of Yoplait to “put a lid” on rBGH, and gave activists the tools to send that message directly to the CEO. Working with many partners dedicated to ridding the world of rBGH, BCA activists persuaded General Mills to do the right thing. As a result, Yoplait is now rBGH free.
Lead Group: Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
CELDF was formed to provide free and affordable legal services to community based groups and local governments working to protect their quality of life and the natural environment through building sustainable communities.
Corporations have devastated Ecuador’s environment. The drafters of their new constitution recognized that they needed to do something fundamentally different to protect nature. In the new constitution, nature is no longer treated as “property” under the law, and instead is recognized as having the inalienable right to exist and flourish.
CELDF assisted the Ecuador Constitutional Assembly to draft Rights of Nature provisions. Ecuador is the first country in the world to codify a system of environmental protection based on rights.
Lead Group: Sierra Club
Coal plants are a leading cause of respiratory illness and account for over 30% of our nation’s global warming pollution. The Campaign is working to stop the construction of the more than 150 financially risky new coal plants that have been proposed and reduce our over-dependence on dirty, destructive coal.
The Campaign helped stop 27 coal plants during this period, the global warming pollution equivalent of taking more than 15 million cars off the road.
Lead Group: Women’s Voices for the Earth
The Safe Cleaning Products Initiative is a national campaign that aims to reduce women’s exposure to toxic chemicals in household cleaning products. WVE’s goal is to establish new policies to require manufacturers to fully disclose ingredients and remove toxic chemicals from their cleaning products through market-based and legislative initiatives.
SC Johnson & Son, Inc. announced they will disclose all ingredients in their household cleaning products, including fragrances, and will remove phthalates.
Tie for 3rd Place:
Lead Group: Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
The Rainforest Agribusiness Campaign is working to stop the conversion of tropical rainforests into soy and palm plantations in order to protect forests, communities and our climate. We are calling on Cargill, the #1 supplier of palm oil into the U.S., to adopt and implement a comprehensive global forest policy.
40 retailers, including Whole Foods and L’occitane, have signed our pledge to protect forests, communities and the climate and agreed to take steps to improve the destructive palm oil industry.
Tie for 3rd Place:
Lead Group: United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)
The Russell Corporation closed a garment factory in Honduras because workers tried to exercise their right to unionize and collectively bargain. USAS is pressuring the Russell Corporation to reopen the factory in order to remediate its violations of Honduran law and university labor codes of conduct.
Sixty universities cut business ties with Russell. USAS involved student groups in the UK, different Russell retail customers, and the US Congress.
Click on the image to play through the full slideshow of 2009 BENNY Nominees!
- Getting funded to study and build a framework that allows us to apply the tactics & lessons learned from our corporate campaigning to our legislative efforts
- Developing a coordinated approach to encourage funders to prioritize our issues and projects.
- Proposing smaller pieces of legislation instead of trying to advance an omnibus bill