In 2015, As You Sow engaged dozens of companies asking for increased responsibility on environmental and social issues by corporate boards and management. We filed 35 shareholder resolutions, the most resolutions we’ve ever filed! Some highlights of our program accomplishments are listed below:
- Our resolutions at Southern Company, FirstEnergy and Great Plains Energy to adopt time-bound CO2 reduction goals received high levels of shareholder support. Our resolution at FirstEnergy received support from 19.4% of voting shares, while our resolution at Southern received support from 22.1% of voting share, representing over $7. The resolution at Great Plains Energy received a vote of 33.8% in support.
- Our resolution at Pinnacle West seeking political spending disclosure for lobbying received 30.8% of shareholders’ support, representing over a billion dollars in shares.
- Our resolutions at Shell and BP, co-filed with over 100 other shareholders, asked the companies to improve on a number of key climate issues, including carbon emissions, renewable energy investments, and an end to CEO bonus programs that encourage anti-climate corporate actions. These resolutions received an unheard of level of shareholder support, with support reaching 98% at Shell and 99% at BP. Both resolutions require Shell and BP to include robust reporting of their companies’ climate performance in their annual reports.
- The second edition of Disclosing the Facts was released in late 2014, analyzing top fracking companies on 35 key performance indicators. Many companies’ scores improved over the first year as investor pressure demanding disclosure ratcheted up. We accompanied this report with continued shareholder actions at Chevron and Exxon. The next edition is due out in December 2015.
- After three years of As You Sow engaging and filing shareholder resolutions with Abbott Laboratories, the company finally announced a non-GMO version of its market-leading Similac baby formula.
- Our second-year nanoparticles shareholder resolution with Dunkin’ Donuts resulted in Dunkin’ publicly agreeing to remove titanium dioxide, a whitening substance that contains nanoparticles, from its powdered sugar donuts.
- After engagement with As You Sow, Trillium Asset Management, and Clean Yield Asset Management, General Mills became the first major packaged foods company to create a policy to protect pollinators from the harmful impacts of pesticides, including neonicotinoids (“neonics”).
- This year, Walt Disney announced an industry-leading decision to prohibit smoking imagery in youth-rated films produced by the company. The U.S. Surgeon General reported that, if the entire industry limited portrayals of smoking to R-rated films, over 1,000,000 children alive today would be saved.
- Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN), a project of As You Sow, published Mining the Disclosures 2015, a report that analyzes and ranks 155 companies’ conflict minerals activities and filings under section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act.
- RSN joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), which consists of over 150 global companies such as Adidas, H&M, and Target, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academic institutions. SAC promotes sustainability throughout apparel and footwear supply chains by systematizing the impacts of production using the Higg Index.
- RSN Director, Patricia Jurewicz, published “Reducing Child Labor in Uzbekistan: Lessons Learned and Next Steps” in the UC Davis Journal of International Law and Policy, Volume 21. This article explores the strategies used by RSN and various stakeholders to almost entirely eliminate forced labor in the cotton fields for children ages 7-15.
- RSN worked with European NGOs, MADE-BY, and Solidaridad, to conduct a Feasibility Study of its new spinner engagement effort called Yarn Ethically and Sustainably Sourced (YESS). RSN is now assembling a multi-stakeholder working group to develop the engagement and assessment strategy.
POWER OF THE PROXY
- To provide transparency for the investments of millions of Americans, As You Sow launched Fossil Free Funds, a web tool that provides investors vital information about the risky fossil fuel stocks that may be hiding within their mutual funds.
- After releasing The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs, a report that looks at the executive compensation packages at S&P 500 companies, we followed many of those companies as they released new proxy data. Our blog at ceopay.asyousow.org highlighted specific companies as well as analyses of new rules adopted at the SEC.
- We are excited to launch a new initiative encouraging pharmaceutical companies to assume responsibility for safe disposal of prescription drugs that are unused or expired. As You Sow has begun to engage with three major drug companies: AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck.
- As You Sow partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council to produce Waste and Opportunity 2015, an in-depth analysis of packaging sustainability policies at over 45 beverage companies and fast food chains, which identified leaders and laggards in the fast food, packaged food, and grocery industries. New engagements with Burger King, Chipotle and Nestle USA are under way based on their lagging performance in the report.
- Shareholder support was abundant for our waste proposals, with four proposals getting nearly 30% support for consumer packaging issues: Kraft Foods, Kroger, Mondelez International, and Dr Pepper Snapple.