The Episcopal Church Pension Fund Boo-boo

A photo and short company bio don’t reveal much about a person.

The U.S. Episcopal Church and its pension fund, both based in New York, received an embarrassing reminder of that when they attempted to target Zimmer Holdings with a dose of shareholder activism.

The recent proxy filing by Zimmer, a Warsaw-based orthopedics company, included a shareholder proposal from the church asking the company to take more steps to diversify its board of directors, “all of whom are white males.” The church pointed to the “cozy clubbiness” that too often has characterized U.S. corporate boards.

There was just one problem.

Dr. Augustus White, a member of Zimmer’s board since 2001 and a noted spine surgeon, is black — a fact Zimmer pointed out right below the church’s proposal.
Zimmer’s Web site carries a photo of White and summary of his career, including a professorship at Harvard Medical School and receipt of the Bronze Star for service in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in Vietnam. Zimmer also said White is recognized for his work in “medical education, diversity and issues of health care disparities.”

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Race/Race Relations, Stock Market

16 comments on “The Episcopal Church Pension Fund Boo-boo

  1. BillS says:

    This is a microcosm of what is wrong with TEC. This company provides products that enhance the quality of life for people of all colors, creeds, and races around the world, is profitable, with an outstanding board and management team. Mr White’s bio shows that he is eminently qualified to be a director, and TEC is primarily concerned with whether or not he is the correct color. Perhaps his name confused them.

    While TEC may be politically correct, it is also an organization that allowed its treasurer to embezzle millions of dollars some years ago. And today, TEC will not disclose to its members (shareholders) how much it is spending on a dubious strategy, litigation with departing parishes. A public company run this way would be sued for malfeasance and the CEO fired.

    TEC should, however, take some comfort that the Annual Report has a section on Reconciliation, even if it is a financial, rather than spiritual, reconciliation.

  2. robroy says:

    My comment at the newspaper:
    It is patently silly to expect much diversity from a Warsaw based company. (How much diversity does one find in Japanese companies?) Dr. White is being very gracious with the foolish, politically correct-noids in the leadership positions of the Episcopal Church.
    Do we start discriminating against companies that are based in ethnically homogeneous countries. One should be supporting countries that were former Soviet Union Bloc countries in their quest for solid democracy.

  3. Dave C. says:

    I believe the company is based in Warsaw, Indiana.

  4. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Research? Scripture, Tradition, reality…it’s NOT something we do! (TM)

  5. Knapsack says:

    Is there a Warsaw somewhere else? (By the way, you pronounce the Hoosier one kinda like the word “worser.” Or for the truly Hoosier, “wahr-sawr.”)

    Boy, did this brighten my day. It being Lent, i should probably repent my glee, but can i wait ’til later this afternoon? Thanks.

  6. In Newark says:

    It’s Warsaw, Indiana. Check out

  7. CanaAnglican says:

    When you’re hot you’re hot;
    When you’re not you’re not.

  8. robroy says:

    Oops. When I assume, I make a you-know-what of me but apparently not everyone else in the world. (But I do wonder if the TEC will divest of Japanese or Chinese companies because of their extreme lack of diversity.)

  9. Bishop Daniel Martins says:

    Wow. I knew I had a stake in the local economy because I have several parishioners who work for Zimmer (as well as the other two world-class orthopedic companies in town). But now I know my retirement future is tied up in it as well.

    Dan Martins+
    Rector, St Anne’s Church
    Warsaw, Indiana

  10. Albany* says:

    The issue here is the public face of TEC. It — 815 — unilaterally defines us by these PC acts of idiocy. How often are these idiot missives going out and painting a loony Church to all?

    It gets said time and again, but just moving the headquarters from Manhattan to Hardy Arkansas would solve more than half the problems. The life form at 815 can’t survive without the cultural comforts, indulgence, and unreality of NYC.

  11. Phil says:

    More ECUSA in a nutshell. Come back to the Gospel of Christ, the water’s fine.

  12. Knapsack says:

    Dan+, didn’t mean to jump in front of you on local matters, but you can still tell everyone the local variants on pronouncing Kozzy-osco County! (The real fun is when the South Bend TV stations get new reporters . . . the vets don’t tell ’em, since they can only truly learn by doing.)

  13. In Newark says:

    It gets worse. I have just learned,from a close relative who works with corporate governance issues, that there are serious problems with the way Zimmer is run. It seems that the board has a history of ignoring majority shareholder votes, and that the company has been accused (I don’t know by whom) of giving kickbacks to orthopaedic surgeons. Faced with these serious issues, The (97% white) Episcopal Church is worried about the skin color of the directors, rather than whether the directors are honest and responsible.

  14. Choir Stall says:

    The 815 liberal knee-jerk reaction turned full course to kick them right in their own… you know.

  15. Dave B says:

    Isn’t it written somewhere that in the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female, slave…… why does TEC care?

  16. MargaretG says:

    With 65% of their assets in equities as at 31 Dec 2006 (the latest stats I could find on their website) and 9.3% in “property/hedge fund” there may be reasons why they are wanting to define “success” in terms of Board diversity and not in terms of financial results.