Shareholders talk, board of directors listen.
Apple, Intel, Colgate, Smucker’s, Crocs, and Garmin are among the companies whose investors successfully used shareholder resolutions to spur corporate action on climate change, hydraulic fracturing, supply chain and water availability risks, among other sustainability issues, during the 2012 proxy voting season.
Advocacy group Ceres says of the some 110 resolutions is tracked in 2012, 44 proposals resulted in US companies making commitments to confront environmental and social risks in their operations and supply chains.
It’s important to note, however, that these shareholders are not individuals. More often, these resolutions are driven by powerful investment groups charged with managing public and institutional funds, such as:
The New York State Comptroller’s Office secured agreements from Apple, Dell, HP and Intel — firms representing more than 50 percent of the personal computer market, according to Gartner analysts — to encourage or require their major suppliers to issue sustainability reports that address environmental issues, Ceres says.
Also in 2012, Calvert Investments and the comptroller’s office won commitments from Colgate and Smucker’s, respectively, to source 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil for their products. Additionally, 37 percent of shareholders of Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, voted in favor of a shareholder resolution filed by Trillium Asset Management, requesting that the company source 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil.
These resolutions will require corporations to take positive action on climate change, fracking, supply chain and natural resource availability risks.