Welcome from our CEO

Welcome to our special fall edition of Seeds of Change. We are excited to give you a sneak peek into The Shareholder Action Guide, to be released on November 15 by Berrett Koehler Publishing. Hailed by Robert Reich as “a valuable call to action for small shareholders to change the ways big corporations do business,” this books empowers shareholders to demand positive, sustainable change in the world. It’s chock-full of stories about getting big corporations to make big changes. We hope you enjoy this preview and are inspired to order the book!








Andrew Behar

Andrew Behar, CEO


Shareholder Action Guide(EXCERPT page 62) A Greener Apple

On May 2, 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a public statement on the Apple website, saying “Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple. It will not be the last. We apologize for leaving you in the dark for so long.”

The Apple saga is a classic example of a heated negotiation with a notoriously tough corporation that led to positive change: it was the first time Apple publicly addressed the issues of electronics waste and hazardous materials. How did this change come about? Jobs’ reputation as a corporate leader who refused input from anyone – especially his shareholders – is famous. Yet, this announcement came shortly after shareholder resolutions on electronic waste were filed and he had a meeting with the lead proponents. What happened in that negotiation?

As You Sow’s work on e-waste began in 2003, led by Senior Vice President Conrad MacKerron, who formed a coalition of SRI allies including Calvert, Green Century, Pax, and Walden Asset Management to press major brands like Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, and Apple to set e-waste take-back goals. Dell, already under pressure from a grassroots campaign, committed to a take back goal in 2004. Later that year HP, which had an initial take-back program operating, accelerated its goal, pledging to recycle one billion pounds of e-waste by 2007.

But Apple, in the process of moving from innovative creator of the Mac to a global electronics powerhouse dominating the personal electronics market, was typically silent and not open to dialogue. MacKerron reached out to former Vice President Al Gore, who was on the Apple board. Several shareholder proposals were filed. Still, there was no progress. Finally, at the 2006 shareholder meeting, Executive Director Larry Fahn was able to engage Steve Jobs in a friendly discussion as the resolution was presented, and Jobs agreed to meet and see if progress could be made. The shareholder proposal asking Apple to improve its e-waste policies received a decent vote of 10 percent of shares voted.

The meeting with Jobs would not occur for almost another year. In February 2007 MacKerron, Fahn, and As You Sow board chair Thomas Van Dyck met with Jobs in his Cupertino office. True to form, Jobs offered brilliant insights but was also caustic, at times berating his visitors for overstepping their boundaries and railing against Greenpeace, which had launched a campaign for Apple to phase out toxins in its components, before acknowledging the recycling problem. The shareholder team held firm that an e-waste take-back policy was good for Apple and that competitors were way ahead. At one point, Jobs dismissively tossed a presentation the group’s staff had spent weeks preparing back across the table at them. It was time to improvise…

Like what you see? Read the rest of the story here, and pre-order your copy of “The Shareholder Action Guide” to get a free chapter TODAY. Amazon is offering a 15% discount for all pre-orders!

More from As You Sow

  • Unconventional RisksRisks of Oil: Unconventional Risks: The Growing Uncertainty of Oil Investments reveals critical weaknesses in oil companies’ financial fundamentals and debunks the oil industry’s self-serving story about the impossibility of achieving a clean energy economy.
  • Our Clean200TM list ranks the largest publicly listed companies by their total clean energy revenues. Clean200 provides the obverse of the Carbon Underground 200 and shows that investing in the Clean200 10 years ago would have outperformed a CU200 investment 3-to-1!
  • Fossil Free Funds just celebrated one year of helping investors “know what they own” and is growing the tool with carbon footprinting functionality – coming soon!
  • NEW: Our Ocean Plastics initiative fights the business-as-usual path that by 2050 will give us more plastic in the ocean (by weight) than fish.
  • Did slaves make your jeans? Modern slavery is real – and 65% of the world’s cotton comes from countries that allow or even mandate forced labor. YESS! (Yarn Ethically and Sustainably Sourced) will help drive slavery out of the cotton supply chain.
  • Forest Friendly: Deforestation Free Funds is our latest, FREE investment screening tool, letting shareholders see if their savings are invested in the companies – palm oil producers, users, and bankers – that deforest the planet.
  • Antibiotic Abuse: Antibiotic resistance is a growing danger to human health. We are working with Wendy’s, Burger King, and Hormel Foods to end the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in their meat supplies.
  • Speaking Engagements: In partnership with Skytop Strategies, As You Sow staff will be speaking at the Water & Long Term Value 2 Summit in San Francisco; the Gender Equality in the C-Suite and Boardroom in Chicago; and Shareholder Engagement & Communication 2 in New York. Skytop founder and CEO Christopher P. Skroupa writes a regular column for Forbes, where he recently featured our CEO Andrew Behar.
  • Our Media Center is always being updated with our favorite press hits. Check back often to see what we’ve been up to!

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Look for our next edition of Seeds of Change in December.