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Post-Election Landscape: The Value of Shareholder Advocacy to Inclusiveness, Climate Change, and Economic Inequality

December 8, 2016// Boston, MA: Given the many potential and real challenges to our work from the incoming Administration, we believe it is important for investors to provide clear policy direction that supports sustainable economic growth. Three critically important areas that Trillium will be working on include: Inclusiveness, climate change, and economic inequality. Much of our advocacy work over the last few years has focused on these areas and we believe it will be even more important to continue engagement with companies and policy-makers on these core issues.
Inclusiveness: We have been particularly active in encouraging protection of LGBT rights and have recently filed shareholder proposals at Verisk, Dentsply, and EOG Resources asking each company to make their policies fully inclusive of LGBT employees. Additionally, we organized a statement signed by investors representing over $2.1 Trillion in collective AUM, calling for full repeal of North Carolina’s discriminatory House Bill 2, which prohibits transgender people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity. We plan to file more shareholder proposals that ask individual companies to disclose diversity data and to encourage dialogue around programs and policies that address LGBT non-discrimination, workforce diversity, gender inclusiveness, and board gender diversity. Well over half of the 15 companies Trillium has engaged on board diversity have already recruited more women onto their boards, and almost all are now incorporating racial and gender diversity into their director search criteria.
Climate: We believe climate change is the defining investment issue of our time and must be addressed through production, financing, and consumption. At the production level for example, we re-filed a shareholder proposal with EOG Resources urging them to adopt company-wide goals to reduce methane emissions, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. With respect to financing, in recent years we engaged Bank of America on mountaintop coal removal and this year filed a shareholder proposal with the company focused on “extreme” fossil fuel production activities like Arctic oil drilling and Canadian tar sands. On fossil fuel consumption, we continued our engagement with companies such as Tractor Supply Company and Verizon to establish quantitative goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from products and operations as we have at companies such as Oracle and Hologic.
Economic Inequality: The disparity in income, wealth, and opportunity in the United States will continue to be a major concern as many working Americans often struggle to make ends meet with less than sustainable wages. This year, we re-filed shareholder proposals at Chipotle, TJX Companies, and The Home Depot that pushed the companies to speak up for the need for public policies raising minimum wages. Our shareholder proposal at Panera Bread on this issue resulted in a commitment from the company to develop a new strategy on human capital management, including employee benefits, compensation, and working conditions. We also successfully engaged with The J.M. Smucker Company and Costco on slave labor and transparency of working conditions in their supply chains – helping to move them into stronger positions with respect to their fish and shrimp supply chains. Moving forward, we will continue to file proposals that show that a rising minimum wage is good for workers, companies, and our economy.
We look forward to reporting back on our progress to create change on these issues which have become even more critical in the evolving policy environment.
Important disclosure: The information provided in this material should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell the security mentioned. It should not be assumed that investments in such security has been or will be profitable. To the extent a specific security is mentioned, it was selected by the authors on an objective basis to illustrate views expressed in the commentary and it does not represent all of the securities purchased, sold or recommended for advisory clients. The information contained herein has been prepared from sources believed reliable but is not guaranteed as to its timeliness or accuracy, and is not a complete summary or statement of all available data. This piece is for informational purposes and should not be construed as a research report.