Social Impact Updates
Celebrating Twenty Years of Shareholder Activism: For the past twenty years, shareholders of the Domini Funds have used their investments to enable conversations with executives at some of the largest and most influential corporations on a wide range of social and environmental issues. Since our first shareholder resolution was submitted in 1993, Domini has filed more than 240 proposals at 95 different corporations. This year, we look back on some of the notable shareholder activism successes from the past twenty years.
Addressing Corporate Tax Avoidance: Domini is taking a leading role in asking corporations to adopt more responsible and transparent tax strategies. Our first of its kind proposal, asking Google to adopt a set of ethical principles to guide its tax strategies, helped to raise awareness or this critical issue and led to our first conversation with Google about its tax strategies, a dialogue that we hope will continue.
De-militarizing Amazon.com: Domini wrote a letter to Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, raising concerns about the company's participation in the militarization of the civilian firearms market, after we discovered semi-automatic weapon accessories being sold on Amazon that could help gun owners increase the firepower of their weapons. Amazon executives took our letter quite seriously, and most of the products we identified have been removed and added to the company's list of prohibited items.
So far this year, we have also engaged with several companies to ensure that their supply chain purchases are not inadvertently driving human rights violations or deforestation, and we asked Chipotle Mexican Grill to produce a sustainability report to substantiate claims about the company's social and environmental responsibility. For more details, download PDFs of our Social Impact Update: First Quarter, Second Quarter.
Download our 2013 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are just a few of the ways that you made a difference in 2012. Read our quarterly Social Impact Updates for more information.
Crisis in Bangladesh: In response to a series of tragic disasters in Bangladeshi factories, culminating in the worst accident in the history of the apparel industry – the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Dhaka – Domini helped coordinate an investor statement backed by 200 institutional investors managing more than $3 trillion. The statement is being used to engage global companies on their efforts to address fire and safety conditions in Bangladesh.
Freedom of Expression and Privacy: Domini is a founding board member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a human rights organization focused on protecting freedom of expression and privacy rights on the Internet and other telecommunications technologies. In 2013, the GNI completed its first full round of independent assessments of founding companies Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Domini helped to design GNI’s independent assessment framework. The GNI also welcomed Facebook as a new member during the year.
Corporate Political Accountability: Since 2009, we have been actively engaged with JPMorgan Chase to encourage full disclosure and effective board oversight of the bank’s political spending. In 2013, after discussions with Domini, the bank completed a series of important changes to its political spending policies, effectively withdrawing from electoral politics. After several years of receiving shareholder proposals from Domini, AT&T began complete disclosure of its direct political contributions (we continue to press the company to disclose its indirect contributions).
Corporate Sustainability Reporting: Domini was pleased to participate on a drafting committee coordinated by the Investor Network on Climate Risk to produce a draft listing standard on corporate sustainability reporting. The draft standard was prepared in response to a request from the NASDAQ OMX exchange for presentation to the World Federation of Exchanges, an association of the world’s stock exchanges.
During the year, we also engaged several companies on pesticides and colony collapse disorder, a major threat to honey-bee populations, forestry practices and climate change. Read our quarterly Social Impact Updates for more details.
Download our 2012 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are just a few of the ways that you made a difference in 2012. Read our quarterly Social Impact Updates for more information.
Confronting Coal Financing: In 2010, PNC Financial Services adopted a policy prohibiting the direct financing of mountaintop removal coal mining. Nonetheless, like many mainstream banks, PNC continues to service coal-mining clients. This year, we joined other investors in filing a proposal asking the bank to address the climate impact of its financial services, including its lending to coal companies. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with PNC.
Sustainable Forestry Engagements: Before we can begin to address the problem of global deforestation, we need quality information. This year, in response to engagement by Domini, Lowe’s, the home improvement company,published a detailed report outlining its efforts to purchase sustainably harvested wood and reduce its impact on threatened forests. RR Donnelley, a global printing company, also agreed to talk to us about our concerns regarding its paper sourcing policies and has taken several important steps to address its exposure to illegal deforestation.
Addressing the Impacts of Payday Lending: A number of large banks have begun offering “payday lending” services, in which they provide the working poor with advances on their paychecks, generally at exorbitant fees that can trap the borrowers in cycles of debt. This year, working closely with the Center for Responsible Lending, we filed a proposal with US Bancorp, asking the bank to address concerns regarding its “checking account advance” program, a payday lending service. Our proposal prompted an informative dialogue with bank executives, culminating in an agreement to withdraw our proposal in exchange for continuing discussions and the bank’s commitment to publicly address how it is mitigating the potential risks of its service.
Taking a Stand against Bribery and Corruption: Since 1977, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has placed the U.S. at the forefront of the fight against bribery and corruption around the world. Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobbying group, proposed certain “clarifications” to the FCPA that many believe will weaken our government’s enforcement efforts. In response, we met with senior officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice – the two agencies with joint authority over the FCPA – to express our strong support for the Act and our concerns about any efforts to weaken it. We then worked with other investors to draft a statement explaining in detail why strong enforcement is in the best long-term interests of investors, corporations and society. In mid-August we submitted the final statement to the SEC and DOJ, on behalf of more than fifty institutional investors managing more than $3 trillion, in addition to several large investor networks.
Download our 2011 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are some of the ways that you made a difference in 2011.
Improving Corporate Political Transparency: In 2010, the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission freed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence political elections. Since 2004, Domini has worked to foster transparency and accountability of corporate political spending. In 2011, we filed a legal brief with Montana’s Supreme Court supporting their efforts to maintain a century-old law banning corporate political contributions in the state, wrote a letter to President Obama endorsing a draft executive order that would require all companies seeking government contracts to publicly disclose their political contributions, and sent a letter to the SEC in support of a petition asking for a rule requiring corporations to disclose spending on political activities. In addition, we re-filed proposals with AT&T and JPMorgan Chase, seeking disclosure of their political spending.
Addressing Global Deforestation: We filed proposals with Kraft, Lowes, and RR Donnelley, seeking reports on their efforts to address their impacts on deforestation. All three companies were willing to talk to us about our concerns.
Global Network Initiative – Internet Censorship and Surveillance: During the year, Domini continued to participate as an active member of the board of the Global Network Initiative, a human rights organization addressing threats to freedom of expression and privacy on the Internet and other telecommunication technologies (GNI includes Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google). This year, our human rights proposal at Cisco Systems received a 42.5% vote – the highest we’ve received to date.
Conflict Risk Network – Sudan, Libya, and Syria: The Conflict Risk Network (CRN) is a network of investors and other stakeholders working to ensure that corporations uphold human rights and support peace and stability when operating in areas affected by genocide and mass atrocities. Domini is a founding member of CRN and serves on its advisory board. During the year we worked with CRN members to engage the Swedish company Atlas COPCO concerning its operations in Sudan; Saras, an Italian oil company, to express concerns regarding its sales of fuel to the Libyan military under Qaddafi; and 11 other oil and gas companies operating in Syria to express concerns regarding the Syrian government’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists.
Download our 2010 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are some of the ways that you made a difference in 2010.
Domini Reaches Agreement with Nucor on Slavery in Brazil: The largest steel producer in the United States,Nucor, is also the largest buyer of Brazilian pig iron, a key ingredient in the manufacture of steel. In a 2006 cover story, Bloomberg Markets magazine opened a window into the small camps that produce the charcoal used to make pig iron, exposing a world of slavery, inhuman working conditions and illegal deforestation. After a three-year engagement, Nucor agreed to adopt a strong set of policies to address slavery in its Brazilian supply chain.
Toyota Motor Cuts Ties with Burmese Military Regime: While researching Toyota Motor, Domini analyst Shin Furuya discovered that Toyota Tsusho, the company’s major trading partner, was in partnership with the Burmese military regime to sell motorcycles, light trucks, and cars. This information was uncovered in Japanese, and was apparently unknown to both human rights activists and investors. After a three year dialogue with Domini and other investors, Toyota announced that its trading partner had ended its joint venture with the Burmese government.
Ending the Secrecy of Corporate Political Contributions: In 2010, Domini resubmitted shareholder proposals asking AT&T, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase to disclose their political contributions. We joined other investors in filing proposals with 3M, Best Buy, and Target, seeking a review of their political activity in order to highlight the potential financial risks when companies pay for election ads. All three companies contributed to Minnesota Forward, an organization that financed election advertisements in support of the election of Tom Emmer for Governor of Minnesota. Emmer’s opposition to gay marriage led to a consumer boycott of Target, a company with a particularly gay-friendly profile.
Protecting Consumers from Toxins in Products: Domini has addressed the issue of toxins in consumer products for years, through our Global Investment Standards and our direct engagement with companies. In 2010, Domini filed with Coca-Cola the first shareholder proposal ever to focus on bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used in the lining of cans. A report by the President’s Cancer Panel noted a “growing link between BPA and several diseases, including various cancers.” Domini’s proposal received a strong 22% vote at the company’s annual meeting, in addition to substantial press coverage.
Download our 2009 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are some of the ways that you made a difference in 2009.
Celebrating 15 Years of Shareholder Activism: 2009 marked the 15th anniversary of Domini’s shareholder activism program. Since 1994, we have filed more than 200 resolutions with more than 80 companies and engaged in numerous long-term dialogues with corporate management on a range of social, environmental, and governance issues.
Predatory Credit Card Practices: As part of a campaign against credit card practices that lock consumers in a deepening cycle of debt, Domini filed resolutions with Bank of America and American Express. Domini’s resolution with Bank of America gained a vote of more than 33%. Among other suggestions, the resolution asked the company to end the practice of raising interest rates on consumers who had not been delinquent in their payments. We were pleased to be able to withdraw our proposal at American Express after productive discussions with the company.
Domini Executive Selected for SEC Investor Advisory Committee: Domini’s Managing Director and General Counsel was selected to join the Securities and Exchange Commission’s newly formed Investor Advisory Committee. The 18-member committee was established to provide the SEC with the views of a broad spectrum of investors on the Commission’s regulatory agenda.
Domini Urges Mandatory Corporate Sustainability Reporting: Domini worked with the Social Investment Forum on a proposal asking the SEC to require companies to produce an annual sustainability report using theGlobal Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines, the world’s leading format for corporate sustainability reporting. Domini also joined other shareholders in a successful effort to ask the SEC to reverse its practice of allowing companies to exclude from their proxy statements proposals that ask companies to conduct a “risk evaluation” of a social or environmental issue.
Domini Seeks Disclosure of Corporate Political Contributions: In the fourth quarter of 2009, Domini filed shareholder proposals asking AT&T, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase to fully disclose their political contributions.
Download our 2008 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are some of the ways that you made a difference in 2008.
Global Network Initiative: Around the world, Internet and communications technology companies face requests from governments to censor and remove information, and to provide information on their users. In 2008, Domini helped to launch the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder group that opposes government censorship and threats to privacy worldwide. The group includes Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and a range of human rights and academic organizations.
Sustainable Forestry: Of the twenty shareholder resolutions Domini filed for the 2008 proxy season, six related to sustainable forestry and climate change. Best Buy agreed to work with Domini to develop a sustainable paper purchasing policy and the packaging manufacturer MeadWestvaco agreed to study the feasibility of phasing out the use of wood fiber not certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and to increase its use of recycled fiber.
Project Kaleidoscope: Domini helped to produce the final report of Project Kaleidoscope, a multi-year collaborative effort, which included McDonald’s and the Walt Disney Company. The Project’s Working Group developed and successfully field-tested a new approach to achieving long-term improvements in factory working conditions. The project was field-tested at 10 contractor factories in southern China that produce goods for McDonald's restaurants and Disney licensees.
Child Labor in Uzbekistan: In 2007, the International Labor Rights Forum brought to our attention the annual forced mobilization of children in Uzbekistan to harvest cotton. In 2008, Domini helped lead a group of investors that sent letters to more than 100 corporations around the world, prompting them to start tracing the source of their cotton purchases. The group’s efforts included meetings with the U.S. State Department and letters to Uzbek President Karimov, the Secretary General of the International Labor Organization, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Investing and Genocide: In September 2008, Domini briefed the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on what investors can do to address genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Download our 2007 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are some of the ways that you made a difference in 2007.
Sustainable Forestry: After two years of filing resolutions and engaging in dialogue with Kimberly-Clark over its forestry practices, in the second quarter of 2007 the company issued a new policy expressing preference for fiber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. This sends an important signal to the marketplace from a very significant purchaser of wood fiber.
Rights for Shareholders: Domini took an active role in opposing ideas advanced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that could have restricted or eliminated the right of shareholders to file nonbinding resolutions. Our two Action Alerts on the subject generated more than 2,000 responses. Domini also submitted three comment letters, including one submitted on behalf of 47 institutional investors and service providers from ten countries — all signatories of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment — representing approximately $1.4 trillion under management. Ultimately, the SEC decided — at least for now — to continue allowing shareholders to place important social, environmental, and governance issues onto corporate proxy ballots.
First Shareholder Resolution in Europe: Together with trade unions and employees of the British transportation company FirstGroup, Domini co-filed its first shareholder resolution in Europe. The resolution addressed allegations of anti-union activity at First-Group’s U.S. school bus subsidiary, First Student. Domini’s participation was critical in allowing the unions to meet the onerous British filing requirements.
Rights for Coffee Farmers: Despite its generally positive social and environmental record, Starbucks refused for more than a year to acknowledge the Ethiopian government’s ownership of the valuable naming rights for its prime coffee-growing regions: Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, and Harar. Domini engaged with Starbucks on this issue, beginning in August 2006, and helped enable representatives of Oxfam and Ethiopian coffee farmers to ask questions at Starbucks’ annual meeting. We were pleased that Starbucks agreed to sign a licensing agreement acknowledging Ethiopia’s right to the names. According to Oxfam, this agreement will improve the lives of poor farmers by helping them capture a greater part of the retail price of the coffee they grow.
Download our 2006 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Below are highlights of how you made a difference in 2006.
“Most Activist”: Domini was one of four mutual fund families rated “most activist” by The Corporate Library, a respected information resource on corporate governance. This meant we were least likely to support management, and most likely to support shareholder resolutions on corporate governance and social and environmental issues in our proxy voting. (Interested in how your other mutual fund companies rated? See www.fundvotes.com.)
Human Rights: Coca-Cola has been accused of draining aquifers in a drought-stricken region of India, and of complicity in the deaths of trade unionists in Colombia. As part of our ongoing dialogue, we met with Coke’s new CEO and asked the company to address human rights in a more comprehensive way.
Freedom of Expression and the Internet: Domini achieved a significant vote of 29% for a resolution calling on Cisco Systems to report on its involvement with repressive regimes seeking to “balkanize” the Internet through censorship. Domini also joined a multi-stakeholder group working to address violations of fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy. The group includes Microsoft, Google, Vodafone, and Yahoo! in addition to a range of human rights groups and academics.
Climate Change: Following a shareholder resolution filed (and later withdrawn) by Domini, Devon Energy committed to measure and publicly report its greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this agreement, Domini also hosted a meeting with Devon’s president. Devon is the largest U.S-based independent oil and gas producer. Working with the Carbon Disclosure Project, we wrote to more than 200 U.S. and European companies asking them to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and climate change policies.
Forestry Practices: After discussions with Domini, Kimberly-Clark commissioned a study to evaluate the feasibility of phasing out its use of wood fiber from sources not certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Also following discussions with us, Limited Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, agreed with the nonprofit ForestEthics that it would use more wood certified by the FSC, increase the recycled content of its paper, and reduce the use of paper in catalogs.
Download our 2005 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are highlights of how you made a difference in 2005.
Freedom of Expression and the Internet:Domini, Boston Common Asset Management, and Reporters Without Borders drafted a joint statement of investors calling on Internet businesses to support freedom of expression worldwide, in response to recent revelations that U.S. companies are helping repressive regimes to censor the Internet and jail dissidents. The statement was endorsed by more than 25 institutions in four countries, representing more than $20 billion in assets.
Environment: Domini helped convince JPMorgan Chase — a $1.1 trillion bank with operations in more than 50 countries — to adopt a comprehensive environmental policy, addressing global warming, illegal logging, protection of habitats, and the rights of indigenous peoples. It will impact the bank’s loans, investments, research and lobbying activities, employee training, and internal operations. Our coalition, led by Christian Brothers Investment Services, helped convince the bank to hire its first Director of Environmental Affairs in 2004.
Global Labor Standards: In response to a shareholder resolution filed by Domini, Apple Computer adopted a code of conduct for the suppliers that manufacture its products around the world. The code, which incorporates significant comments from our shareholder coalition, covers the core conventions of the International Labor Organization, including strong provisions on freedom of association, collective bargaining, and forced labor.
Nondiscrimination: After a five-year campaign, Emerson Electric agreed to amend its company-wide nondiscrimination policy to prohibit discrimination against its gay and lesbian employees.
Retail Store Siting: Domini and Christian Brothers Investment Services released Outside the Box: Guidelines for Retail Store Siting, a 38-page report including a set of nine social and environmental guidelines for big-box retailers to use in making decisions about store site locations, land procurement, and leasing. The guidelines were supported by an additional 16 institutional investors and mutual fund families representing $32 billion in assets under management.
Global Poverty and Trade: Domini coauthored the report Post-Multifiber Arrangement Challenges, presenting the results of a survey of 65 American companies on their response to the expiration of the Multifiber Arrangement, an international treaty that established country quotas for garment production. It suggested how companies can lessen the negative impact on developing countries. (The report, published by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in its “Corporate Examiner,” is available at www.iccr.org)
Download our 2004 Social Impact Updates (PDF Format).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are highlights of how you made a difference in 2004.
Global Labor Standards: In May 2004, Gap Inc. released its first Social Responsibility Report, after two years of dialogue between the company and a coalition of socially responsible investors including Domini Social Investments. This report, which focuses largely on labor standards in the factories that make Gap products, set new standards of transparency for the apparel industry. Even Gap’s critics praised the company for its frank discussion of factory work conditions. The company plans to update the report annually in the future.
Global Poverty and Trade: From 1974 through 2004, developing countries benefited from quotason exports to developed countries under an international treaty called the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA). The expiration of the treaty could create a significant humanitarian crisis. We wrote to 20 companies in our portfolio, asking how they plan to respond to the new quota-free environment, and urging them to consider the human effects of their decisions.
Diversity: Masco, OGE Energy, and NiSource agreed to amend their corporate policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Corporate Political Contributions: TimeWarner and Tribune agreed to disclose information on their websites regarding their political contributions. Time Warner’s website also includes its positions on public policy issues.
Fair Trade Coffee: Procter & Gamble began to sell Fair Trade Certified® coffee in supermarkets across the United States. P&G began selling Fair Trade Certified coffee online in 2003, after an intensive dialogue co-led by Domini.
Proxy Voting Transparency: In 2004, every U.S. mutual fund was required to reveal its complete proxy voting record for the previous year, under a rule that Domini petitioned for.
Human Rights: Domini signed a Supreme Court brief in support of the Alien Tort Claims Act, an important tool for holding human rights violators accountable (the brief was filed by the International Labor Rights Fund).
As a shareholder in the Domini Funds, you make a difference in the world. Listed below are highlights of how you made a difference in 2003.
In recent years, overproduction and falling prices have led to a crisis in the coffee market, leaving millions of farmers unable to feed, clothe, and educate their families. The Fair Trade certification system helps to alleviate poverty and suffering by guaranteeing farmers a minimum price of $1.26 per pound, far above current market levels. In September, after months of dialogue with an investor group co-led by Domini, Procter & Gamble offered its first line of Fair Trade Certified® coffee.
Despite the epidemic of breast cancer among American women, there is still insufficient understanding of its causes. At Avon Products, Domini sponsored the first shareholder resolution ever filed regarding parabens, chemicals found in cosmetics that may be implicated in breast cancer.
Proxy Voting Transparency: Do you know how your mutual fund is voting? Domini has been disclosing its proxy voting guidelines since 1992, and its actual votes since 1999. In response to separate petitions from Domini, the AFL-CIO, and the Teamsters union, the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that all mutual funds must disclose their proxy voting policies, procedures, and actual votes.
Corporate Free Speech Rights: When California activist Marc Kasky tried to hold Nike accountable for statements about its use of sweatshop labor, the company claimed these statements were protected as “noncommercial” or “political” speech.Domini filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting Kasky and arguing that Nike’s position threatens investors’ ability to obtain information from corporations on a timely and accurate basis.
A New Forum for Dialogue: Domini Chief Investment Officer Steve Lydenberg helped launch the Institute for Responsible Investment, an affiliate of The Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College. The Institute provides a platform for dialogue on fundamental issues and theories underlying socially responsible investing and corporate citizenship.