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A Season of Accountability

If you sit on the board of a publicly traded company, there is only one time of year when you must face your shareholders. For most companies, that time is at the spring annual meeting. Since the 1960’s, shareholders have raised key issues of concern at these meetings, from napalm production to racial discrimination to climate change. On behalf of our fund shareholders, we have submitted more than 250 shareholder proposals over the past 22 years, ensuring that your voice is heard.

The shareholder proposal is a tool to help us persuade companies to see our point of view. They are conversation starters that get executives’ attention, and hold it long enough for us to make our case and, hopefully, effect change. This year, these conversations led to agreements with Best Buy, First Solar, and Target. We also worked with our colleagues at Clean Yield Asset Management to withdraw our proposal at Whole Foods. You can read more about these agreements, or download our Social Impact Update for the First Quarter.

When we are unable to reach agreement, the process reaches a public stage. Our proposal is published in the corporate proxy statement and then put to a vote at the annual meeting. There, we are provided the opportunity to share our views with shareholders, senior management and the board of directors in a brief speech. This season, seven of our proposals went to a vote.

Domini Proposals that Went to a Vote this Season

3M De-link executive compensation incentives from share buybacks 6%

AT&T

Indirect political contributions disclosure

29%
Chipotle Mexican Grill

Sustainability reporting

43%
Nucor

Political lobbying disclosure

32%
Verizon Communications

Indirect political contributions disclosure

30%
Amazon* Sustainability Reporting 27%
UPS* Political lobbying disclosure 23%
*Domini is serving in a supporting role in these engagements. 

The Chipotle annual meeting was a lively one, following a nationwide rash of e-coli and norovirus outbreaks that has battered confidence in the brand. Our speech began with a reminder that issues of sustainability, including decent working conditions and healthy ecosystems, are key to the long-term success of this company. After several years, however, the company still fails to provide comprehensive information to help us understand how it is managing its key sustainability risks. Chipotle says they’d rather do the work than tout their successes. Our speech sought to educate the Board about the critical importance of sustainability reporting to risk management:

Sustainability reporting is about accountability, not marketing. 
It is a key part of getting the job done.
 

We were told that Chipotle will be releasing more information around sustainability and that we will be happy with the results. Our proposal’s strong 43% vote should send a strong signal that our message resonates with the company’s shareholders.

To read more about our current and past engagements, read our Second Quarter Social Impact Update and visit our Social Impact Update Archive.