2018 Carondelet Magazine - English

csjcarondelet

Investing in Change

SISTER BARBARA JENNINGS WORKS TO CREATE

SYSTEMIC CHANGE IN THE CORPORATE WORLD

BY SISTER MARY FLICK, CSJ

Sister Barbara Jennings started her ministry as most Sisters did 50 years

ago, by teaching high school English and religion classes. An ever-evolving

path of ministry led Sister Barbara from educating students in the classroom

to advocating for systemic change in the boardroom as the coordinator of

Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment (MCRI).

MCRI is a coalition of religious

communities in the St. Louis

area who work for justice by

influencing the policies and

practices of corporations through

a variety of shareholder activities.

The coalition is a member of the

Interfaith Center for Corporate

Responsibility in New York City.

Sister Barbara’s work involves

pulling together religious groups

who can impact companies.

“Corporations are the real

change agents in society,” she

says. “We fool ourselves if we

don’t recognize this.”

Sister Barbara’s advocacy work

requires her to be a good

teacher and researcher, skills

she gained in her years in the

classroom and adult education

in particular. “Like teaching, you

give the corporate reps a little

praise if they did something

right. Then you push and

challenge them to do more.”

Sister Barbara says it’s the little

successes that have kept her at

her work with MCRI for more

than 10 years. For example, in

2014, Monsanto Co. joined the

Water Accessibility to Sanitation

and Health (WASH) CEO Water

Mandate that requires the

installation of clean water and

sanitation facilities at every

facility or contract farm in every

country where the corporation

operates. Sister Barbara

says, “Monsanto was the first

agricultural chemical company

to sign the CEO Mandate at our

suggestion in 2014. They have

done a tremendous job, with

370 completed facilities.”

“Systemic change is so hard

because it costs money for a

company to do the right thing –

in the short term,” she says. “But

in the long term, it saves money.

With the WASH program,

instead of protests and sick

workers in India, Monsanto has

healthy workers.”

All of this requires relationships,

which is the way the Sisters

of St. Joseph have always

operated. “Our mission is the

mission of systemic change

Sister Barbara Jennings, CSJ

through relationships,” Sister

Barbara says. “MCRI is built

on relationships – among

communities, between

“Systemic change is so hard because it costs

money for a company to do the right thing –

in the short term,” she says. “But in the long

term, it saves money. With the WASH program,

instead of protests and sick workers in India,

Monsanto has healthy workers.”

– Sister Barbara Jennings

12 CARONDELET

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