Trillium Asset Management Advocates Broad Range of Corporate Reforms in 2005(A)
Trillium Asset Management Corporation has filed a total of 23 shareholder resolutions for consideration at company annual meetings in 2005, on a wide range of issues from workplace diversity to global climate change.
Some of the 2005 resolutions have already yielded concrete positive changes in corporate policies. Trillium has withdrawn proposals at Nucor (the nation’s largest steel producer) and Reliant Energy after the companies agreed to add ‘sexual orientation’ to their nondiscrimination policies. “The Nucor and Reliant Energy policy changes are only two of ten companies that have made this policy change this year to date at the request of shareholders,” noted Trillium’s Director of Social Research and Advocacy, Shelley Alpern. Partnering with the Center for Political Accountability and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, we’ve helped convince Morgan Stanley and Johnson and Johnson to adopt strict new policies for board oversight and reporting of political contributions, which set a new standard for responsible business practice in this area.
Among highlights of our 2005 shareholder advocacy:
· Climate Change. Working with shareholder coalitions in the social investment and religious shareholder communities, we’ve filed resolutions at Dominion Resources (one of the nation’s largest energy producers) and Anadarko Petroleum, calling on them to report on their response to rising regulatory, public and competitive pressures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. These proposals have resulted in substantive discussions between Trillium and the companies. We have co-filed similar proposals (“co-filing” indicates that another investor is taking the lead in the effort) at Ford Motor, General Motors, ExxonMobil, and Apache Corporation (an oil and gas exploration and production company). Last year’s resolutions addressing greenhouse gas reductions received levels of support of 30% and higher from shareholders and resulted in a number of public reports from electric power companies acknowledging the need to address climate change.
· Environmental Health. For the third year, Trillium is filing a shareholder proposal pressing Dow Chemical to report on mounting liabilities from the company’s emissions of environmental toxins from Agent Orange lawsuits to dioxin contamination in Michigan. In 2004, Trillium co-sponsored a groundbreaking study by the Innovest Group* highlighting Dow’s liabilities from past pollution, and formally petitioned the SEC to require Dow to better disclose those liabilities. A resolution at Avon Products asks the company to disclose more detail about its breast cancer fundraising and grantmaking activities. Avon is the largest corporate contributor to breast cancer charities.
· Indigenous Rights. Trillium has filed a proposal for the second year at ChevronTexaco addressing its alleged pollution of indigenous rainforest lands in Ecuador. We are joined this year by two new co-sponsors, Amnesty International and the New York State Common Retirement System. Ms. Alpern visited Ecuador in 2004 to view oil-contaminated areas of the rainforest.
· Political Contributions. In addition to the resolutions at Morgan Stanley and Johnson & Johnson, Trillium filed shareholder resolutions at GE and Southern Company calling for calling for greater disclosure around political contributions, including underlying rationale and governance procedures. The Center for Political Accountability is acting as our partner in the GE and Southern Company resolutions. We’re also working with members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility to file such resolutions at two other big pharma companies Eli Lilly and Merck, highlighting the impact these companies’ political contributions are having on the affordability and access to medicine in the U.S. and around the world.
Other resolutions include pressing Home Depot and Wal-Mart to disclose diversity data to help gauge their progress in promoting women and minorities; calling on Pfizer to take steps to increase the affordability and accessibility of its pharmaceuticals; calling on ExxonMobil to add ‘sexual orientation’ to its nondiscrimination policy; and calling on Whole Foods to label its store brand products with respect to genetically engineered ingredients. For more information and the full text of resolutions we’ve filed, see the Shareholder Resolution page on our website, which we update throughout the year.
Trillium Asset Management is also engaged in collaborative dialogue with many companies that do not involve formal shareholder resolutions. For instance, we continue to provide input to senior management at both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo on ways those companies can reduce their impacts on communities and ecosystems facing the growing threat of freshwater scarcity around the globe. Steve Lippman, Senior Social Research Analyst observes, “Too often, Wall Street focuses on quarterly earning statements and ignores long-term issues like global water scarcity that pose real risks for many businesses. We’re working to send companies the signal that these longer-term issues are important to investors.”
For an overview of all of our advocacy efforts, see the “Quarterly Advocacy Updates”, posted on our homepage.
* The Innovest Group is an investment research and advisory firm specializing in analyzing companies’ performance on environmental, social, and strategic governance issues, with a particular focus on their impact on competitiveness, profitability, and share price performance.