Updated Statistics on Political Activity Shareholder Proposal Voting Results

April 24, 2015

A recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal asserted that no shareholder proposal on a social or environmental issue has earned a majority vote, presumably counting in this tally those about corporate political activity. This is simply not accurate.

In the last five years alone, 10 proposals about political activity actually have earned support from more than 50 percent of the shares cast for and against; eight of of these votes occurred in 2013 and 2014. Results from the 2015 proxy season are not yet available, but right now investors are set to vote on 68 more proposals–and have already done so at three companies (giving lobbying disclosure proposals 24.5 percent at Monsanto and 39.8 percent at Emerson Electric–and 30.4 percent to a long-running resolution about political spending oversight and disclosure at Emerson).

Attached is a table showing where these votes occurred, as well as –and quite a few more that earned more than 40 percent support. In all, 51 separate votes on these issues since 2010 have garnered support from more than 40 percent of the shares cast.

High Corporate Political Activity Votes, 2010-2014

Mid-Year 2014 Report on Corporate Political Activity Shareholder Proposals

August 28, 2014

Si2 published for its clients a mid-year report on the record-breaking results from the spring corporate annual meeting season in mid-August, with a detailed analysis of the social and environmental proposals filed during proxy season.  An excerpt from this report that includes information on trends over the last five years and a complete description of all the corporate political activity proposals is now available for download:

Si2 2014 Proxy Season Mid-Year Review – Corporate Political Activity EXCERPT

Corporate Political Spending Shareholder Proposal Results, 2010-14

July 3, 2014

Si2 has compiled a report summarizing the number of shareholder proposals filed in the five-year period 2010-14, and how investors voted on them. The report covers all proposals on corporate political activity, including direct and indirect lobbying and electoral spending and related issues, at all U.S. companies.

The report may be of interest to those debating the petition before the SEC that requests a rulemaking on mandatory corporate political spending disclosure in securities filings by U.S. companies.

View the report here:

Corporate Political Activity Shareholder Proposals, 2010-2014, as of 7-2-14

 

New Si2-IRRCI Report on Integrated Reporting

April 30, 2013

NEW REPORT ON INTEGRATED REPORTING (APRIL 29): Every company in the S&P 500 except one reports some form of sustainability disclosure, but fewer quantify those disclosures in bottom line impacts, according to the new report we issued today with funding from the IRRC Institute (IRRCI).  The report is the first to comprehensively benchmark the status of integrated reporting in the United States.

A webinar to review the findings and respond to questions about the report, Integrated Financial and Sustainability Reporting in the United States, will be held on Friday, May 3, 2013, at 2 PM ET.  Register here:

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/989588280

The 285-page report analyzes sustainability disclosures on a sector-by-sector basis, and examined a total of 56,000 individual data points, across both mandated SEC filings and voluntary sustainability reports issued in 2012.  It looks at industry trends and regulatory developments, presenting the results of a months-long analysis that looks at the extent to which companies are combining traditional financial reporting with quantifiable environmental and social metrics in their securities filings and sustainability reports.

Download the report and read the press release here:

http://irrcinstitute.org/news/first-comprehensive-study-on-state-of-integrated-reporting-in-united-states_pr_04_29_2013.php

Nuclear Power Safety Shareholder Proposal at Entergy

April 30, 2013

The New York State Common Retirement Fund has proposed several shareholder resolutions about nuclear power safety during the 2013 proxy season, continuing inquiries it began in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  This year’s proposal asks for a “policy to better manage the dangers that might arise from an accident or sabotage by minimizing the storage of waste in spent fuel pools and transferring such waste at the earliest safe time into dry cask storage,” and a report for investors.

The request comes in the wake from recommendations in two recent reports that nuclear plant operators transfer spent fuel to dry cask storage as soon as possible and take other steps to safeguard facilities and communities to avoid catastrophic events should accidents or terrorist attacks occur.  Entergy says that given the extensive regulations governing its operations and its own, time-tested programs, management and the board are best left to make decisions surrounding spent fuel storage.  It also says that the proponent’s proposal is overly prescriptive and would bind it to operating procedures that might not be the most prudent for the company or its shareholders.

Read Si2’s report on the resolution and background on the subject:

2013 SI2 Action Report – Entergy – Environmental Management FINAL-Blog

GAO Report Cites Si2’s Hydraulic Fracturing Report

November 2, 2012

GAO Report Cites Si2’s Hydraulic Fracturing Report

In September, The Government Accountability Office issued a report requested by the U.S. Congress about hydraulic fracturing, Oil and Gas:  Information on Shale Resources, Development, and Environmental and Public Health Risks.  The report cites Si2’s report on the subject several times as it takes a look at the size of U.S. shale gas resources and the range of environmental and public health risks associated with their development.

Report Points to Uncertain and Significant Liabilities for Companies and Shareholders Related to Oil Spills in the Niger Delta; Liabilities Could Exceed $50 Billion; Shell and other Operators at Risk

July 24, 2012

Oil and gas operators in the Niger Delta and their shareholders have significant liabilities that due to poor disclosure and inadequate regulatory oversight to date have gone underreported finds a new report released today by the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2), an independent, impartial proxy and sustainability risk research provider to investors. The special report, Investor Risks Looming in the Niger Delta, says that Shell, the largest multinational oil and gas operator in the region, and other significant players, including ExxonMobil, Total, Chevron and Eni, are exposed to unclear and substantial costs related to ongoing cleanup and remediation activities, as well as compensation and legal expenses connected to a legacy of spills spanning 50 years.

“A confluence of events has occurred over the past year to make it an especially prudent time for investors to review these risks,” says Peter DeSimone, cofounder of Si2 and author of the report. “One is the release of a much anticipated study from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Ogoniland, which recommended the creation of an initial $1 billion clean-up reserve to be funded by the government and oil operators to cover the first five years of what UNEP projects will be a 25- to 30-year effort. The other is a lawsuit filed in London by approximately 11,000 villagers from the Bodo community in the Niger Delta against Royal Dutch Shell, alleging that oil spills in the region devastated local fisheries and livelihoods of community members.” DeSimone adds, “At the same time, the catastrophic BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has helped to highlight companies’ spill responses in other cases and shed light on long years of neglect in the Niger Delta.”

Spotty reporting, continued violence and the long-term legacy of the spills in the Niger Delta, with some ignored or inadequately remediated for more than 40 years, pose major challenges to conducting assessments, but existing reporting from companies, government agencies, multilateral institutions and civil society organizations have helped confirm several realities and needs going forward. These major findings, further developed in the report, include:

– Companies should determine the need for cleanup, remediation, compensation and related costs for outstanding spill damage attributable to their operations.

-Total liabilities are unknown but all indicators point to significant costs for the companies and their shareholders in the range of anywhere from $16 to more than $50 billion.

-Companies are using short-term strategies that are creating much larger long-term liabilities for their financial statements and shareholders.

-Communities are becoming more empowered to act not only in the arenas of public protest but also, and perhaps more importantly, in the courts.

-The BP spill has drawn attention to the consequences of spill damage elsewhere in the world including the Niger Delta.

-Poverty and inequality are underlying issues fueling the cycles of violence, sabotage and theft.

-Investors should take action to protect their long-term interests, while also helping to promote more sustainable and responsible practices going forward.

The report reviews options for investors as they attempt to grapple with assessing these risks, including:

-Demanding good governance of these issues, including robust board and senior management oversight.

-Calling for appropriate policies that are properly implemented, both requiring and empowering operations staff to devise solutions for clean-up and remediation efforts, and to guide ongoing responses to spills.

-Requesting better reporting of spill cases found, clean-up and remediation efforts and potential liabilities arising.

-Seeking improved metrics for ongoing reporting and measurement of resulting practices, with third party validation.

-Encouraging cooperation with the Nigerian government, local authorities and affected communities. This includes cooperating with UNEP and other multilateral institutions in following recommendations for redressing oil pollution problems.

-Urging greater efforts to promote constructive corporate social investment in affected communities to minimize incentives for violence and theft through the promotion of economic development and job creation.

The full report is available for download here. Contact Peter DeSimone at peter@siinstitute.org for more information.

The Gap and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

April 26, 2012

Si2 has just published for its members a report on the pending shareholder resolution that will be considered by investors at The Gap at the company’s annual meeting on May 15th. The proponent asks the company to leave Sri Lanka because of the government’s human rights violations, but Gap says it is carefully monitoring its presence in the country and believes it is helping to rebuild the war-torn country, where a 30-year civil war ended in 2009. Si2’s Action Report on the proposal is available here: 2012 SI2 Action Report – Gap – Social (Human Rights).

DISCLOSE Act Statement for Senate Rules Committee Hearing 3-29-12

March 28, 2012

In collaboration with the IRRC Institute, Si2 submitted a statement for the record to the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, regarding the committee’s consideration of the DISCLOSE Act of 2012. The statement begins:

In the wake of the landmark Citizens United Supreme Court decision, numerous organizations are providing input on the highly contentious policy debate regarding the disclosure of political expenditures. As the Committee examines each side of the debate and potential legislation, we believe an important element of the decision making process is a careful examination of neutral, nonpartisan data on what companies actually are doing with regard to disclosure of political expenditures. The full statement is attached here: FINAL Statement to S Rules March 2012

Attached to the statement is the November 2011 Si2/IRRC study, Corporate Governance of Political Expenditures – 2011 Benchmark for SP500.

What’s Behind All Those Lobbying Proposals

March 10, 2012

In a new post on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Reform , Si2’s board chair, Julie Gorte of Pax World Funds, and Si2 executive director Heidi Welsh explain what’s behind the rash of lobbying shareholder proposals that investors will consider this spring at corporate annual meetings. The post notes that companies usually don’t discuss lobbying when they talk about “political spending,” although the reach of corporate influence in government is precisely what prompted the Occupy movement and underlies this year’s big new crop of political spending shareholder resolutions. Investor proponents want disclosure of all kinds of spending, and they are particularly interested in spending through intermediaries such as trade associations and “social welfare” organizations that currently need not make public who gives them money.


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