Engagement with Industry Associations
While some industry groups continue to act as obstacles, an emerging group of forward looking associations is helping to drive sustainability forward. Calvert is there to encourage and challenge them.
For all the legitimate concern about the negative role of certain trade associations including the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers in sustainability issues, a growing number of industry groups are working with their members to address important sustainability challenges. As corporate responsibility has moved further into the mainstream, some of these associations have begun to advance beyond merely helping their members with comply with environmental and safety regulations to adopt a more proactive stance that treats sustainability as a growing business imperative.
Forward looking industry groups are increasingly willing to engage with critical stakeholders, facilitate the sharing of best practices and help their members understand why and how to address sustainability challenges and stakeholder engagement. Calvert has seen this progress and has sought to engage these associations and their members, many of which are holdings in our mutual funds.
Calvert's approach is to welcome the involvement of industry groups and the supportive environment these discussions can provide for individual companies developing or expanding their sustainability programs. However, we also use our role as a key stakeholder to send a clear message about how to make sustainability programs effective and credible with clear accountability and concrete goals and targets.
Calvert recently presented at two recent industry sustainability conferences, allowing us to amplify our call for rigorous management of environmental and social issues to dozens of companies at the same time.
On February 9, Calvert spoke to a gathering of 50 sustainability executives from the retail industry, including those from companies which are Calvert fund holdings such as Best Buy, Staples, Safeway, Lowes, Limited Brands and Target Corporation. The opportunity grew out of prior years' engagement with the member companies of the Retail Industry Leadership Association on issues such as energy efficiency and climate change.
Calvert called upon these major retailers to continue to build and strengthen their sustainability programs, noting that investors are an increasingly vocal driver of corporate responsibility. Further, we emphasized, that in order to build support for sustainability among a variety of important stakeholders, companies need to show how these initiatives address core business challenges and how they can contribute to the success of the firm. Calvert underscored the point that strong reporting can enhance credibility and provide a platform for open and honest engagement with a company's most important stakeholders. And, such reporting can also help to build awareness and ultimately support for sustainability programs among both sustainable and traditional investors.
On March 6-7th at the Auto Industry Action Group's (AIAG) Corporate Responsibility Summit, Calvert addressed the growing emphasis on supply chain transparency to nearly 80 member companies. Major automotive manufacturers and companies which are Calvert fund holdings attended, such as Ford, Honda, and Toyota, as well as many suppliers to the auto industry, including TRW Automotive, Bridgestone Corporation, Visteon Corporation and Johnson Controls. Ford, one of the founding members of the AIAG, invited Calvert to participate.
Calvert discussed the drivers, benefits, and challenges for increased supply chain transparency. In particular, Calvert stressed a number of benefits that can materialize from enhanced disclosure, such as operational efficiency, stronger brand reputation, risk management, greater alignment with global business trends and access to capital. Calvert also discussed new and emerging legislation regarding the management of human trafficking risks within corporate supply chains. We urged companies to utilize a recent guide co-authored by Calvert, "Effective Supply Chain Accountability: Investor Guidance on Implementation of The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and Beyond."
As of February 29, 2012, accounts managed by Calvert Investment Management, Inc. had securities issued by Best Buy, Staples, Safeway, Lowes Companies, Limited Brands, Target Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., TRW Automotive, Bridgestone Corporation, Visteon Corporation and Johnson Controls. Calvert may or may not still invest in, and is not recommending any action on, any companies listed.
Calvert Investment Management, Inc., 4550 Montgomery Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.