Domini Social Investments takes a pragmatic approach to advancing social causes: only invest in companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. The $1.8 billion firm’s CEO and co-founder, Amy Domini literally wrote the book on socially responsible investing back in 1984. She is considered the groundbreaker and Grande Dame of the SRI movement.
Recently, DSI flexed their SRI muscle and made significant advances in minimizing slavery in the Brazilian steel industry. Three years of negotiations with Nucor, the largest steel manufacturer in the U.S., and the biggest buyer of Brazilian pig-iron yielded an agreement to enforce a comprehensive review process of Nucor’s steel supply chain.
Back in 2006, Bloomberg Markets published a feature article on slavery and illegal deforestation in the charcoal camps of Brazil—and its connection to American industry.
Charcoal from some of these camps was used to produce pig-iron, a key ingredient in steel, used by virtually every major auto manufacturer including Toyota and General Motors. The Bloomberg story shed light on how modern day slavery lives in the supply chain of products consumed every day in the U.S. (You can download the story here.)
According to an announcement released by DSI, their agreement with Nucor will focus directly on the pig-iron supply chain. Nucor will do the following:
- Ensure that all its top-tier pig-iron suppliers in Brazil either join the Citizens Charcoal Institute (an association of Brazilian companies that works to eliminate slavery in their supply chains), or sign the Brazilian Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labor (pledging not to buy from suppliers on the Brazilian government’s “dirty list“).
- Publish an annual progress report on these activities.
DSI calls this action “Shareholder Activism”—leveraging one’s rights as part owners of a corporation to influence the business decisions of the management.
Back in 2008, Free the Slaves bestowed our annual Harriet Tubman award on two Brazilian anti-slavery organizations that work to eradicate slavery in Brazil, including in the charcoal camps: Reporter Brasil and Comissão Pastoral da Terra. Both of these organizations helped provide information used by DSI in its dialogue with Nucor.
Read more about their work here.