Investors filed 110 shareholder resolutions this proxy season related to sustainability issues and climate change with 94 US companies, according to business nonprofit Ceres, which helped coordinate the shareholder filings.
Among resolutions filed with major US manufacturers, consumer brands and service providers, many investors requested board oversight of corporate sustainability issues and comprehensive disclosure via sustainability reports. Overall, investors withdrew more than 40 of the 110 resolutions after the companies responded affirmatively to their specific requests, Ceres says.
Among the 2013 proxy season successes:
- Dunkin Brands, Kroger and Starbucks agreed to source 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect workers, rainforests and species.
- UPS, home improvement giant Lowe’s as well as oil and gas companies Denbury Resources and Range Resources also committed to board oversight of environmental and social matters.
- Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, EMC, Gap, Kohl’s, Nike, Texas Instruments, Target and Xerox agreed to encourage or require sustainability reporting by their suppliers.
- Coach, Ralph Lauren, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and nine other companies agreed to issue comprehensive sustainability reports.
- Stryker, a large medical equipment manufacturer, agreed to set GHG reduction goals.
Filers of the resolutions include some of the nation’s largest public pension funds, such as the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York State and New York City Comptrollers’ Offices; socially responsible investors such as Calvert Investments, Trillium Asset Management and Walden Asset Management; and religious, labor and other institutional investors, who collectively manage more than $500 billion in assets.
Support for environmental and social shareholder proposals at US public companies more than doubled between 2005 to 2011, according to a study by the IRRC Institute published earlier this year. During this time frame, average support for these proposals grew from about 10 percent to more than 20 percent, it says.
Environmental and social shareholder proposals account for about 40 percent of all resolutions filed with US companies, according to analysis by Ernst & Young. Just three years ago, environmental and social resolutions made up only 30 percent of proposals.