American Express – Sustainability Reporting (2007)

Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn

Investors increasingly seek disclosure of companies’ environmental and social practices in the belief that they impact shareholder value. Many investors believe companies that are good employers, environmental stewards, and corporate citizens are more likely to generate incremental financial returns, be more stable during turbulent economic and political conditions, and enjoy long-term business success.
Sustainability refers to endeavors that meet present needs without impairing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. According to Dow Jones, “Corporate Sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental, and social developments. Corporate sustainability leaders achieve long-term shareholder value by gearing their strategies and management to harness the market’s potential for sustainability products and services while at the same time successfully reducing and avoiding sustainability costs and risks.” ( ), including Citigroup and Bank of America.
We believe that improved reporting on environmental, social, and governance issues will strengthen our company and the people it serves. Furthermore, we believe this information is necessary for making well-informed investment decisions as it speaks to the vision and stewardship of management and can have significant impacts on our company’s reputation and on shareholder value.
Globally, almost 1,900 companies produce reports on sustainability issues (
The GE 2006 Citizenship Report provides a compelling rationale for sustainability reporting: “Investors are increasingly interested in evaluating companies based on a broader set of criteria than just financial performance… The strength of reputation, trust in brand and governance, and the ability to perform as a good corporate citizen, all impact GE’s valuation and shape the perception of the Company’s worth. In fact, according to a recent study, 70% of institutional asset managers believe the Company’s citizenship factors will be part of mainstream analysis in the next 3 to 10 years… GE’s focus is on providing transparent communications relating to the Company’s citizenship performance.”
Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a sustainability report to shareholders, at reasonable cost, and omitting proprietary information, by October 1, 2007.
The report should include the American Express Company’s definition of sustainability, as well as a company-wide review of policies, practices, and indicators related to measuring long-term social and environmental sustainability.
We recommend that the American Express Company use the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (“The Guidelines”) to prepare the report. The Global Reporting Initiative (

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