Trillium Asset Management, SRI Community Ramp Up Advocacy on Causes and Cures for the Financial Meltdown
For years before the financial meltdown, members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) sat down with key executives of the nation’s largest financial institutions to consider the social impacts and high risk associated with many of the practices that contributed to the current crisis. A recent statement from ICCR says, “Had the eerily prescient advice of faith-based investors been heeded, every evidence suggests that it would have prevented, or at the very least diminished, the impact of this meltdown.” Indeed, the faith-based investors had raised the need for disclosure of off- balance sheet liabilities, subprime lending, predatory lending, capital adequacy ratios, greater transparency and more. When resolutions addressing these issues came to a vote on the proxy ballot, they typically attracted support only in the single digits.
Trillium Asset Management Corporation (“Trillium”) has supported these efforts by co-filing resolutions concerning predatory lending, efforts to fight foreclosures, and executive pay. In 2009, we will continue our activism this year at the company engagement level, while giving increasing attention to opportunities to influence public policy. On September 22, Trillium co-signed a letter from a small group of social investors to Congress calling for Chapter 13 judicial modification relief to be added to federal bailout legislation. Our trade association, the Social Investment Forum, also wrote to Congress in support of the same, as well as provisions that would allow shareholders to nominate board directors, an annual nonbonding vote on executive compensation packages (“say on pay”), and the provision of strong oversight over bailout activities. We will continue to push for substantial reform in the financial markets infrastructure, including necessary regulatory reforms.