Shareholder Advocacy Review – Fall 2021

It’s been a busy summer season for advocacy, and it continues to be refreshing to discover allies on Capitol Hill for the priorities of sustainable and responsible investors.

SUCCESSES
The EPA recently announced environmental protections under the Clean Water Act for Bristol Bay and a plan that could permanently block the development of the proposed Pebble Mine. The letter we co-signed calling for the EPA and Congress to permanently protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay and the world’s largest wild fishery against large-scale mining may have helped.

The “Investor Statement Calling for Corporate Workplace Equity Transparency” we signed in 2019 and sent to 3000 companies made a tangible difference in corporate disclosure rates. Within the S&P 100 alone, in the past year Equal Employment & Opportunity disclosure increased by 239% (23 to 78 companies), with 35 of these largest companies setting explicit diversity goals. However, since reporting on recruitment, retention, and promotion rates—particularly on race and ethnicity—remains low, we signed another letter to 1,000 of the biggest companies in the USA requesting additional reporting of diversity, equity, and inclusion data. Disclosures will be tracked in a public database at As You Sow.

NEW ADVOCACY
We signed the 2021 Global Investor Statement to Governments on the Climate Crisis from investors to governments at the United Nations. The request is that they set midcentury net-zero carbon emissions targets, mandate corporate climate risk disclosure, end fossil fuel subsidies, and phase out thermal coal.

We signed letters to 26 companies, including Amgen, Costco, Goldman Sachs, Humana, and Pepsi, that request dialogue and action on their policies and practices related to reproductive and maternal health. This action follows our 2019 and 2020 outreach to 70 companies. To date, it has resulted in conversations with 25 companies and spawned several shareholder proposals.

We signed a letter asking Elon Musk and Tesla’s Board of Directors for increased transparency on its use of forced arbitration to resolve employee matters. In our request, we asked them to follow leaders like  Microsoft, abandoning forced arbitration, most importantly, in cases related to discrimination and  harassment, as this disproportionately and negatively affects women and people of color.

We signed a declaration of businesses opposing the death penalty, not merely on moral grounds, but because of its racist implications, failed impact on deterrence, use against the innocent, and waste of public resources.

We signed a letter from investment firms to California Governor Gavin Newsome requesting his  signature to enact the California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act, which requires entities contracting with the state to de-link their supply chains from tropical deforestation.

We signed a letter to state and federal lawmakers and regulators supporting the deployment of  zero-emission trucks via broader adoption of the Advanced Clean Truck rule California adopted last year,  which sets zero-emission sales targets for commercial truck manufacturers to help decarbonize  transportation.

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Michael Kramer

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