Highlights From Trillium Asset Management's 2002 Shareholder Initiatives(A)
In a corporate annual meeting season characterized by unusually high levels of shareholder support for corporate governance, social and environmental proposals, several of Trillium Asset Management shareholder proposals did exceedingly well:
· Our proposal at Idacorp, which asked the Idaho-based utility to report on costs associated with capital remediation required to re-license its Hells Canyon Complex of dams, received the highest level of support (34%) of any environmental proposal submitted this year, according to the Investor Responsibility Research Center. We have been in dialogue with Idacorp throughout the last year and will continue to hold discussions with the company focusing on increased transparency and improved cooperation with stakeholder groups.
· A resolution co-filed at EMC Corporation calling for the majority of board directors to be independent (without business or employment ties to the company), passed with a majority of 56%. This multiple-shareholder filing was led by Walden Asset Management.
· At ExxonMobil, our proposal calling on the company to restore the term “sexual orientation” to its written nondiscrimination policy, received just under 24% of votes, nearly doubling last year’s vote of 13%. For four years, we have teamed with the New York City Employees Retirement System and the Equality Project in filing this proposal.
· A second resolution at ExxonMobil, co-filed with Amnesty International, asked the company to adopt a comprehensive human rights policy that committing to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It won 6.8%, qualifying for resubmission next year.
Our resolution at McDonald’s asking the company to extend its farm animal welfare standards to all of its suppliers worldwide won 4.7% of the vote, enough to qualify for resubmission next year (see our related story on Sir Paul McCartney’s outreach to McDonald’s shareholders.) We were joined in the filing by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Why were votes higher this year? Certainly, post-Enron wariness caused a significant number of institutional investors to scrutinize ballot proposals more carefully this year. But as our Blaine Townsend explores in his piece, Proxy Season: The Votes, They Are A-Changin’, “large institutional investors (particularly pension funds) are starting to accept the idea that social policy issues fall within the purview of their duties as fiduciaries. And importantly, they are instructing their managers to vote accordingly.”
Dialogues In Progress
In several cases, Trillium Asset Management filed and later withdrew shareholder proposals in exchange for further dialogue. Our priority dialogues this year include Tricon on farmworker rights, Whole Foods genetically engineered foods, and discussions with Citigroup and Morgan Stanley on incorporating environmental and humans rights criteria into lending and underwriting.
Results from all of our proposals are summarized in the table below.
2002 TAMC SHAREHOLDER RESOLUTION RESULTS
Click on the company name to read the text of the proposal.
WithdrawnAdopt Human Rights Policy
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Finance & Environment
Genetically Engineered Foods
Whole Foods Markets
Access to Affordable Drugs
Johnson & Johnson
Adopt Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Policy
Internationalize Standards for Suppliers