HISTORY OF WALDEN ASSET MANAGEMENT/SRI: Summer 2002
SOCIAL TOPICS (Archive): HISTORY OF WALDEN ASSET MANAGEMENT/SRI
Walden's Leadership Fosters Corporate Change
2003 Proxy Resolution Season
Published, Summer 2003
Companies, Progress, Results
Emissions of greenhouse gases (most commonly carbon
dioxide and methane) trap heat in the atmosphere, and threaten to create
disastrous changes in weather patterns. Research is proliferating that indicates
that companies taking steps to address the risks associated with global climate
change will benefit from enhanced shareholder value.
As a part of the Carbon Disclosure Project, Walden, along with 34 other
institutional investors, asked the FT500 Global Index companies to
discuss their response to climate change and its associated risks. The resulting
data indicates that companies without response plans are increasingly falling
behind industry standards. Walden withdrew its resolution at Occidental
Petroleum Corporation based on the understanding that climate change impact
and carbon disclosure would be discussed more fully in its 2002 annual Health,
Environment and Safety report.
A known neurotoxin, mercury can disrupt fetal and child-brain development and
permanently impair mental abilities.
SUPERVALU provided public confirmation that sales of mercury thermometers
have been phased out at all of its retail and distribution companies. Walden
estimates that 89 percent of all pharmacy chain stores have now phased out such
As computers, which have relatively short life spans, become more ubiquitous,
the disposal of computer equipment will have an increasingly large impact on the
Walden was involved in a dialogue led by Calvert Group and As You Sow
Foundation, through which Dell Computer agreed to measure the
recycling rate of the computer equipment it sells, and to establish equipment
recycling goals by March 2004. Dell will be the first computer company to
establish this type of recycling goal.
Diversity/Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
Despite progress in hiring and promoting women and people of color, senior
management teams remain largely white and male. Lesbians and gay men also
continue to face significant discrimination at work. Increased inclusiveness and
transparency on policies, practices and results will help break glass ceilings
and foster a workplace free of discrimination.
Illinois Tool Works agreed to develop an employee relations/diversity
section on its Web site and provide EEO information on request. Positive
dialogue, led by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, highlighted Merck’s
commitment to foster corporate diversity and ensure accountability. FedEx
is amending its policies and guidelines to explicitly include a prohibition
against discrimination based on sexual orientation. 42.8 percent of shares voted
in favor of a proposal at Dover for an inclusive non-discrimination
policy on April 22. This is among the largest positive votes ever on a social
issue when management recommended voting against the proposal.
Global Labor Standards and Human Rights
Retailers face growing pressure to take responsibility for ensuring that
their factories or suppliers do not manufacture products under sweatshop
conditions, and do not use child or slave labor. Companies are urged to adopt
International Labor Organization principles and to implement independent
monitoring and reporting.
Unocal Corporation announced that it would adopt new principles
addressing a wide range of labor and employee practices. Walden and our clients
were involved in filing both this year’s resolution and the 2002 resolution,
which received 32.8 percent support. Federated Department Stores
committed to writing its suppliers of handmade carpets manufactured in India,
Nepal, and Pakistan, urging them to become members of RUGMARK, an independent
monitoring organization. Federated will also begin to educate its sales staff
The health pandemic in Africa is devastating entire communities. Lowered
employee productivity also creates a financial incentive for companies to put in
place strong health and preventative plans.
In response to our resolution, Colgate-Palmolive has agreed to include
a section on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa in its 2003 global sustainability
report. The section will describe Colgate’s policy and some of its initiatives
to address the terrible human suffering and loss in Africa due to HIV/AIDS.
Staggering director terms over multiple years prevents shareholders from
annually registering their views on the performance of the board collectively
and each director individually. Voting for each director every year assures
accountability to shareholders.
BJ’s Wholesale Club has committed to a Board-level review of its
classified board and McDonald’s Corporation agreed that the
Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee will undertake an analysis of the
issues relating to a staggered board. Walden’s resolution at Gillette
calling for the annual election of Directors received 64 percent of the vote and
at Avon Products, an overwhelming 80.5 percent.
Transparency & Disclosure
Increased transparency and accountability are important prerequisites for
investors to make prudent investment decisions about the companies that they
Walden participated in a resolution at YUM Brands calling for a
transparent review of policies, programs, and practices related to social,
environmental, and economic sustainability throughout the company’s supply chain
that received 35.2 percent of the vote.
The information contained herein has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be reliable, but we make no guarantee as to its adequacy, accuracy, timeliness or completeness. We cannot and do not guarantee the suitability or profitability of any particular investment. No information herein is intended as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as a sponsorship of any company, security, or fund. Neither Walden nor any of its contributors make any representations about the suitability of the information contained herein. Opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. The writings of authors do not necessarily represent the views of Walden Asset Management, its parent, or affiliated entities. There are certain risks involved with investing, including various risks depending on the type of investment vehicle being used.
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