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In the Domini Funds’ 2011 Semi-Annual Report, we discussed our approach to investing for universal human dignity.
We summarized a range of topics and discussed several successful engagements in that essay, but in the limited space we had, did not have the room to tell the whole story. If you’d like to learn more, please visit the links below.Each link will open a new browser window in order to allow you to use this page as an index. You may wish to disable the pop-up blocker in your browser.
You may also wish to review The Way You Invest Matters: Human Rights, first published in our 2008 Semi-Annual Report.
Global Investment Standards
Domini’s Global Investment Standards emphasize the need for corporations to address human rights abuses wherever they operate, including freedom of speech, union relations, bribery and corruption, the rights of minority groups, abusive labor practices and other issues.
The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets forth the most widely accepted delineation of human rights.
UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights
Visit the website of the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights (SRSG), hosted by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, an invaluable resource on the continuing debate surrounding corporations and human rights.
Domini has participated in a variety of consultations with the SRSG over the years. Here are some highlights:
- Letter to Special Representative John Ruggie (PDF, February 2006).
- Letter to Special Representative John Ruggie regarding human rights impact assessments & non-financial reporting (PDF, October 2006: Domini was a coauthor).
- Human Rights and the Financial Sector, testimony to UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Geneva, March 6, 2007. A summary of Domini’s testimony is available at pp. 11-12.
- Putting Human Rights on the Agenda: The Use of Shareholder Proposals to Address Corporate Human Rights Performance, a book chapter originally prompted by a request from the SRSG for research on shareholder activism, from Finance for a Better World: The Shift Toward Sustainability (Palgrave Macmillan, April 2009).
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.
Toyota Motor Cuts Ties with Burmese Military Regime (Social Impact Update, third quarter 2010)
Press release issued by investor coalition, October 5, 2010
Domini’s original letter to Toyota, November 14, 2007
More about why we exclude Toyota from our funds
Gap releases first report on factory working conditions (Social Impact Update, second quarter 2004).
Domini Reaches Agreement with Nucor on Slavery in Brazil (Social Impact Update, first quarter 2010)
Announcement about our agreement by the International Labor Organisation (ILO)
Procter & Gamble
Press release: Advocacy Groups and Shareholders Persuade Procter & Gamble to Offer Fair Trade Coffee, September 15, 2003
Rights for Coffee Farmers (Social Impact Update, first quarter 2007)
Starbucks Acknowledges Ethiopian Rights (Social Impact Update, second quarter 2007)
Child Labor in Uzbekistan
Forced Child Labor in Uzbekistan (Social Impact Update, third quarter 2008)
Internet and Telecommunications Freedom
Joint Investor Statement on Freedom of Expression and the Internet, November 7, 2005. Drafted by Domini, Boston Common Asset Management, and Reporters Without Borders and endorsed by more than 25 institutions in four countries. See our Social Impact Update for the fourth quarter of 2005.
Global Network Initiative is a coalition of human rights organizations, investors, academics, and companies working to develop effective responses to censorship and surveillance on the Internet worldwide. Domini is a founding board member.
HRIC Talks with Adam Kanzer of Domini Social Investments, an interview on engagement between social investors and Cisco Systems regarding human rights in China (China Rights Forum, July 2010).
The Crisis in Darfur
Guided by our Global Investment Standards and our own research, Domini seeks to avoid investing in companies whose activities provide direct or substantial indirect benefits to the Sudanese government, or that are otherwise complicit in human rights abuses in Sudan.
Below is a selection of other steps Domini has taken to address the crisis in Darfur:
April 2005: More than 1,200 Domini shareholders and others responded to Domini’s Action Alert in support of the Darfur Accountability Act, which called for a UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on the government of Sudan, including an arms embargo, a military no-fly zone, increased assistance to African Union peacekeepers, and the prosecution of those responsible for the genocide. Messages were sent to the President, State Department, U.N. ambassador, and Congressional representatives. (In October 2006, the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act was signed into law. Among other sanctions, it freezes the assets of people guilty of violence and genocide in Darfur, and denies entry at U.S. ports to oil tankers that have carried Sudanese oil.)
2007: Domini participated in meetings with JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, andMerrill Lynch to discuss the banks’ responses to the crisis in Darfur. The meetings, which included other social investment firms, Amnesty International, and the Genocide Intervention Network, resulted in Citigroup adopting a formal policy on Sudan.
September 10, 2008: Domini briefed the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on what investors can do to implement policies addressing genocide and other crimes against humanity. We were the only financial services representative present at the briefing. Read Domini’s oral and written testimony.
May 2009: Domini became a founding member, and joined the Advisory Board, of the Conflict Risk Network (CRN). CRN seeks to leverage the more than $500 billion in combined assets of its institutional investor members to address mass atrocities and avoid genocide in conflict zones around the world through in-depth research on corporate activity in these regions and direct engagement with companies.
2010: Domini participated in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on the effectiveness of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act. In addition to responding to questions from GAO staff, we provided the GAO with the list of companies that fail our Sudan policy, one of only three entities to do so. The GAO’s final report recommended that the SEC require companies to disclose information about their operations in Sudan.
November 2010: Domini testified before the House Committee on Financial Services’ subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade on what investors and regulators can do about genocide and other human rights abuses. The hearing focused on the GAO findings noted above. Domini encouraged Congress to recommend that the SEC require companies to disclose more information about their human rights performance. Read Domini’s oral and written testimony, or watch the webcast of the full hearing (select “Archived Webcast” in the middle of the page).
November 2010: Domini joined CRN in writing to 18 oil & gas and telecommunications companies operating in Sudan, asking the companies to take steps to ensure protection of human rights during the upcoming public referenda.