A Clean Yield shareholder proposal in 2006 urged MetPro (now CECO Environmental) to adopt a process to diversify its all-white, all-male board. Subsequently, women filled the next two openings on the board.
Prompted by shareholder proposals from Clean Yield, AGL Resources and Citrix amended their nondiscrimination policies to include protections against bias based on gender identity. In 2013, Clean Yield organized a group of investors to write to 2014 Olympic sponsors, calling upon them to pressure the Russian government to rescind its anti-LGBT legislation. We are currently working with other investors to promote best practices for multinational corporations to ensure the rights and safety of their LGBT employees no matter where they work around the world.
Climate & Environment
Clean Yield is currently very active in efforts to press corporate users of palm oil to source that commodity sustainably and responsibly, due to the huge pressure that palm oil cultivation exerts on Southeast Asian rainforests and their inhabitants. In recent years, we have filed shareholder proposals at a number of companies, with varying success in furthering more sustainable practices.
In late 2009, Clean Yield introduced a shareholder proposal asking EQT Corporation to establish and report on specific environmental, social, and governance goals. The proposal received 37 percent of the vote, and today EQT produces a comprehensive annual “sustainability report” that conforms to global best practices for delivering information on key ESG indicators. Our 2014 proposal prompted EQT to begin disclosing its political donations.
Fossil Fuels. Consistent with our decision to no longer actively invest in fossil fuel companies, Clean Yield actively encourages other institutions to divest (see our Public Policy page for more information). However, using fossil fuel shares that are not yet divested, or which have been retained for this specific purpose, our clients may on occasion file shareholder proposals at these companies to press them on climate-related issues.
Clean Yield has also engaged with our clients’ portfolio holdings on plastic recycling, sustainability reporting, pesticides, and microbeads, among other issues.
Corporations in the Political Process
In our view, the proper role of corporations in the political process can be summarized in one word: limited. We don’t object to companies making their views on public policies known through lobbying or public statements; it’s important for the business perspective to be heard, and we are not shy about sharing our own views. But that is quite a different thing than flooding the electoral process with corporate money, much of it funneled through dark channels.
Commercial interests must be carefully balanced with the public interest for our democracy to function properly. We support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which led to the creation of Super PACs. We also file and support shareholder proposals calling on companies to go beyond what’s legally required and be fully transparent about their political contributions and lobbying expenditures. These proposals also promote responsible internal governance mechanisms to ensure that companies understand and properly manage the legal, brand and reputational risks that accompany political spending.
Clean Yield Asset Management Shareholder Proposals, 2015
|AGL Resources*||Adopt quantitative, company-wide goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from operations and products.||29% vote|
|Citrix*||Add gender identity protections to nondiscrimination.||Withdrawn — agreement reached.|
|Energen||Report on actions to measure, mitigate, disclose, and set reduction targets for methane emissions.||29.4%|
|Expeditors International||Add gender identity protections to nondiscrimination.||Withdrawn — agreement reached.|
|ExxonMobil||Increase capital distributions to shareholders (in lieu of continued capital expenditures on assets likely to become stranded).||Omitted by Securities and Exchange Commission.|
|Google*||Adopt and implement political contributions transparency policy.||Omitted by Securities and Exchange Commission.|
|McGraw Hill*||Adopt and implement political contributions transparency policy.||Withdrawn — agreement reached.|
|J.M. Smucker||Report on how company can increase its renewable sourcing and/or production.||21.2%|
|ThermoFisher Scientific*||Adopt and implement political contributions transparency policy.||Withdrawn — agreement reached.|
|Walgreen Alliance Boots*||Include sustainability as performance measure in senior executive pay.||5.6% vote|
Clean Yield Asset Management Shareholder Proposals, 2014
|* EQT Corporation||Enhance disclosure of political spending activities.||Withdrawn|
|* Cisco Corporation||Enhance disclosure of political spending activities.||47.8%|
|* Intuit||Enhance disclosure of political spending activities.||Withdrawn|
|* AGL Resources||Add “gender identity” to corporate nondiscrimination and non-harrassment policies.||37%|
|Energen Corp.||Report on methane emission mitigation efforts.||27%|
|* J.M. Smucker||Strengthen palm oil procurement standards.||Withdrawn|
|PepsiCo||Strengthen palm oil procurement standards.||Withdrawn|
|Sysco Corporation||Strengthen palm oil procurement standards.||Withdrawn|
|Clarcor||Produce sustainability report.||40%|
|Procter & Gamble||Report on environmental consequences of using unrecyclable packaging.||25%|
* Many of our proposals are co-filed with other shareholders. An asterisk indicates where Clean Yield took a leadership role within a shareholder coalition.