Home Depot Shareholders Urge Company to Improve Diversity Disclosure
Boston, MA, June 1, 2011
Investors will cast their votes tomorrow at the annual meeting of The Home Depot (NYSE: HD) on a shareholder proposal calling on the company to prepare a diversity report. The resolution, filed by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility requests that the report include the following:
1. A chart identifying employees according to their gender and race,
2. A summary description of any affirmative action policies and programs, and
3. A description of any policies and programs oriented specifically toward increasing the number of managers who are qualified females or minorities.
“Employment barriers persist for women and minorities. Understanding how companies break down those barriers is a shareholder issue. Companies without effective programs designed to break glass ceiling barriers can face allegations of discrimination leading to costly litigation and the erosion of shareholder value,” says Susan Baker from Trillium, the lead proponent of the resolution.
Home Depot annually files an EEO-1 report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission but does not make the information public. Investors can’t readily access reports through the Freedom of Information Act process because of long processing times and the ability of a company to circumvent EEOC disclosure.
“Providing EEO-1 data to investors is not a financial burden to shareholders. Wal-Mart, Intel, IBM and Coca-Cola report diversity data to their shareholders and have been doing so for at least four years,” said Judy Byron, OP, spokesperson for the Camilla Madden Charitable Trust. “Home Depot provided diversity data for a very short period of time ten years ago. Now, Home Depot is lagging other major brands making it impossible to track progress on hiring, retaining and promoting women and minority employees,” added Susan Vickers, Vice President of Community Health at Catholic Healthcare West.
Home Depot recommends that shareholders vote against the proposal, maintaining that shareholders should be satisfied with descriptions of its internal programs that cover diversity issues.
“As investors, we commend the efforts Home Depot is making internally, but these programs do not obviate the need for transparency. EEO-1 data gives investors an important tool for measuring the effectiveness of corporate diversity programs. In the absence of meaningful disclosure, investors cannot fully assess potential risks Home Depot faces, nor for that matter, identify successful diversity efforts,” concluded Susan Baker.
The lead proponent of the Home Depot proxy resolution is Trillium Asset Management Corporation. The co-proponents include Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, Camilla Madden Charitable Trust, Catholic Healthcare West, Clean Yield Group, Congregation of Benedictine Sisters Boerne TX, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Board of Pensions, and Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
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About Trillium Asset Management Corporation
Trillium Asset Management manages equity, balanced and fixed income portfolios for high net worth individuals, foundations, endowments, religious institutions and other non-profits. Our investment approach emphasizes quality growth at a reasonable price, with integrated ESG (environmental, social and governance) analysis. Trillium has offices in Boston, Durham and San Francisco.
About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Currently celebrating its 40th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world.