CALDWELL, N.J. — Dominican Sister Patricia Daly, who spent most of her ministry forcing corporations to do better for their customers and the environment, died Dec. 9 at age 67. She had been suffering from cancer.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated for her Dec. 15 at St. Aloysius Church in Caldwell.
Sister Daly spent part of five decades as a religious in corporate accountability and shareholder advocacy.
She spent 45 years with the Tri-State Council on Responsible Investment, now known as Investor Advocates for Social Justice, including 23 years as its executive director.
Sister Daly also was the corporate responsibility coordinator for the Maryknoll Sisters and corporate responsibility representative for her own religious order, the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell.
The New York native spent many years working with hotels and hotel chains to toughen their approach against human trafficking at their properties, with emphasis during Super Bowl games, including the 2014 game that was played at MetLife Stadium, only 16 miles from her order’s motherhouse in Caldwell.
Sister Daly was one of several advocates who met with Verizon officials in 2019 on the issue of child sexual abuse material being transmitted through its pipes, and was bothered with the telecom giant’s noncommittal response.
Afterward, she said it was the responsibility of the telecom companies to set high standards in safeguarding children.
“This crosses classes. It’s beyond any kind of racial issue. Every child is at risk, regardless of whether your parents are millionaires or not. Any child who has access to a phone will be at risk,” Sister Daly said.
She spent more than four decades in shareholder advocacy on dozens of issues from weapons manufacturing to human rights.
Sister Daly partnered often with the New York-based Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility by virtue of her Dominican motherhouse’s membership in the organization.
In the 2010s, she had been one of the most vocal shareholder activists who worked doggedly to get ExxonMobil to disclose its role in failing to address climate change despite years of internal correspondence that acknowledged the phenomenon.
“To be honest, it says more about the ICCR community that they would go to someone from ICCR. We’ve been at this and learned what works and doesn’t work … for nearly 50 years,” Sister Daly said in a 2018 interview.
“We are really seeing that this planet and people are not going to survive if profit is the bottom line,” she added. “We’ve got to be far more thoughtful about what is the impact of these investments. These investments have to be sustainable in themselves.”
In 2018, Sister Daly was already retired from her work at Tri-State, but she still agreed to advise Apple investors as they pressed the company to make software updates to its highly popular iPhone and to study the mental health impact of smartphone overuse.
Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System had led the effort. At the time, they had about $2 billion in Apple stock, which accounted for about two-tenths of 1% of the value of all Apple shares at the time.
By then, evidence had been growing that long hours of smartphone use by children and teens have negative health effects on sleep, nutrition, attention and learning. Studies have revealed higher incidences of depression and obesity among young people who are on their phones for more than an hour or two a day.
“It’s wonderful to see investment firms do this,” Sister Daly said at the time.
Sister Daly was the recipient of ICCR’s 2017 Legacy Award along with her longtime friend Capuchin Franciscan Father Michael Crosby, and in 2014 she received the Joan Bavaria Award for her environmental advocacy.
The Bavaria award is presented annually by Ceres and Trillium Asset Management. It is named in honor of the founder of Ceres who was a pioneer of social investing.
Transparency, accountability, and dialogue are vital for creating a climate of trust among human beings made in the image and likeness of the divine. Dominican Sister Patricia Daly is an inspiration to many. Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord and let your perpetual light shine upon the departed soul.
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