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Investment Firm Pressures Starbucks, Google for Sustainability Committees

Harrington Investments has introduced binding bylaw amendments at Starbucks and Google, which encourages the boards of directors to create a standing committee to set company policy on environmental sustainability.

This is not the first time Harrington has put pressure on a company to create a “Board Committee on Sustainability.” In March, the investment firm was successful in getting Intel to include “corporate responsibility and sustainability performance” in the committee’s overall policy responsibility. The company’s charter now says it has a “fiduciary duty” to do so.

In October, Harrington reached a similar agreement with genetically modified seed producer Monsanto (MON). Monsanto also agreed to amend the company’s committee charter to specifically delegate sustainability policy issues to the Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Committee.

The investment firm has proposed an identical amendment at Microsoft, which will be voted on at the November 16 Annual Shareholder’s Meeting at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington.

Harrington also recently submitted a similar shareholder proposal to Oracle. The company’s board of directors said it was opposed to a shareholder proposal that calls for the creation of a board-level committee on sustainability.

As of March 2010, U.S. investor groups had filed 95 global warming shareholder resolutions with public corporations, a 40 percent increase over last year.

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