Hope in the Numbers. Our Spring 2012 Shareholder Advocacy Results
Calvert Investments shares the results of three shareholder advocacy efforts from the Spring 2012 proxy season
Believing that companies who behave better perform better, Calvert Investments advocates on behalf of our shareholders throughout the year to influence corporate behavior in areas such as the environment, board diversity, climate change, and human rights. Shareholder advocacy can take many different forms—from something as simple as dialogue with company executives, to working in coalition with other investors and non-governmental organizations, or testifying and reporting to Congress on complex environmental, social and governance issues.
While all our advocacy efforts are important, Calvert believes that proxy voting is one of the most direct means by which investors can influence corporate behavior. In a typical proxy season, Calvert can vote on more than 40,000 individual proxy ballot resolutions. This spring, Calvert brought a number of resolutions to corporate leaders in an attempt to keep the sustainability issues that can have a real impact not only profits but people and the planet front and center. Here are three of the results from the resolutions we profiled in our May 15 article, “The Annual General Meeting: That Other Great American Pastime.”
Urban Outfitters – Board Diversity
Parent company to familiar women’s retail brands Anthropologie and Free People, it might be surprising to learn that Urban Outfitters does not currently have any women or minorities on its board of directors. At Calvert, we understand that by combining competitive financial performance with high standards of corporate governance, including board diversity, companies are better positioned to generate long-term value for their shareholders.
On May 22, Calvert Investments asked the board of directors at Urban Outfitters to broaden its pool of candidates and publicly commit to taking steps to establish an inclusive board.
Our proposal garnered 39% of the vote this year, which is a significant increase from last year’s 22%. We hope that this sends a strong message to the existing board that their shareholders are serious about seeing the organization evolve its thinking on diversity.
Fossil – Supply Chain Risks from Water Scarcity and Pollution
Like many apparel companies, Fossil relies on water-intensive inputs such as cotton and leather. And as a result, water risk in the supply chain presents business risks from production shortfalls, price volatility, higher energy costs, regulatory action and competition. Additionally, Fossil’s supply chains employ energy-intensive processes and create significant water demands and detrimental effects, particularly in leather tanning and finishing.
On May 23, Calvert Investments presented to the board of directors at Fossil asking them to prepare a report addressing their risks associated with water scarcity and pollution and their supply chain environmental standards.
We are proud to share that Calvert’s shareholder resolution at Fossil earned 31% of the vote at the company’s annual meeting. While this is the first time a resolution has been brought on this issue, we are encouraged by the shareholder response and hope that Fossil will move forward on plans to mitigate sustainability risks in the supply chain.
Gentex – ESG Reporting
Gentex develops and manufactures high-quality products for the automotive, aerospace, and commercial fire protection industries. While nearly 95% of Fortune Global 250 companies now provide sustainability reporting, Gentex provides no data to investors regarding improvement, plans for company operations, efficient use of resources, or reduction of environmental impacts.
Some of Gentex’s own key clients such as Daimler, BMW and Ford Motor Company are expecting more from suppliers around sustainability reporting.
On May 17, Calvert Investments joined Walden Asset Management, the lead filer, asking Gentex to begin sustainability reporting.
While the resolution earned 32% of the vote, we hope that Gentex will come to the conclusion that comprehensive ESG reporting helps companies demonstrate the existence of effective internal controls for anticipating, managing and reporting on operational, regulatory and reputational risks and opportunities.
The JM Smuckers Company, the fourth corporate advocacy target discussed in the previous article, has not yet held its annual general meeting. Look for more information on that outcome in the near future.