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Human Rights

Universal human dignity is among our long-term invest­ment objectives. On behalf of our funds’ shareholders, we are working to ensure that it becomes an objective of the corporations in which we invest as well.

At Domini Social Investments, we believe that all companies confront basic issues of fairness and justice in their dealings with their employees, their customers, their suppliers, and their communities. In the long run, companies that recognize and promote matters of human dignity in the daily conduct of their business can increase their effectiveness and efficiency, bolster their reputations, assure sustainable relations with their stakeholders, create a shared pool of societal and cultural wealth, and avoid potential risks and liabilities.

"The idea of human rights is as simple as it is powerful; treating people with dignity.”

--John Ruggie, former Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary General on Business and Human Rights

Domini’s Global Investment Standards direct our investments toward companies that promote human dignity and enrich the natural environment, while seeking a competitive return. Our standards relating to human dignity focus on three broad areas:

  • respect for human rights, including workplace rights and indigenous peoples’ rights,
  • concern for the safety and well-being of customers, and
  • assurance of fair and just conduct in the workplace.

We do not expect perfection in the companies in which we invest, nor do we claim to have a portfolio free of com­panies with human dignity challenges. We expect companies to have appropriate policies and procedures in place to address these issues and to work with us when we ask them to remedy problems that occur. 

Direct Engagement

Domini engages companies directly on human rights, through shareholder proposals, direct dialogue, and proxy voting. For more details, visit our Shareholder Activism and Proxy Voting pages. Our Proxy Voting Guidelines cover a range of human rights issues including affordable drugs for developing countries, child sex tourism, vendor standards, infant formula, questionable overseas payments, and human rights in countries with repressive regimes.

A few examples of the breadth of our engagement on human rights issues:

  • After a three-year engagement with Domini, Nucor agreed to adopt a strong set of policies to address the presence of slavery in the production of Brazilian pig-iron.
  • Our research on Toyota Motor uncovered connections between a key trading partner and the Burmese military regime. Although we have consistently excluded the company from our funds, we helped to lead a three-year engagement by responsible investors with the company. In August 2010, Toyota announced that its trading partner had divested itself from the joint venture.
  • Gap Inc.’s first Social Responsibility Report, released in 2004, was developed in cooperation with Domini and a small group of social investors, in response to a shareholder resolution we filed. The report marked the first time that a clothing retailer had publicly rated the way the factories in its global supply chain treated their workers. We have provided feedback to Gap during the drafting of each of its subsequent reports.
  • Domini is a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a human rights organization comprised of human rights organizations, academics, investors and major corporations, including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. The GNI is dedicated to addressing threats to freedom of expression and privacy rights on the Internet and telecommunication technologies. In the fourth quarter of 2013, the founding companies completed an independent assessment of their compliance with the GNI's principles.

Learn more about how Domini works towards universal human dignity.