Sustainable Supply Chains
Against the back-drop of a disastrous fire and building collapse in Bangladesh, which claimed the lives of more than 1,200 workers, New York City Comptroller John C. Liu’s Office moved The Gap, Nike, and Target to commit to make their supply chain more sustainable by working with key suppliers to issue sustainability reports, including worker safety issues. Technology giants EMC and Texas Instruments made similar commitments in response to resolutions by Liu’s office. Kohl’s also made a commitment on this topic to the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA), as did Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy and Xerox in response to resolutions filed by the New York State Comptroller’s Office.
“We’re encouraged that more companies agreed to increase the sustainability and transparency of their suppliers as we expanded our efforts beyond the technology sector to include major retailers,” Comptroller John C. Liu said. “The risk they face from suppliers’ human and worker rights abuses was made clear by the tragedies in Bangladesh. More needs to be done, particularly in Bangladesh, but sustainability reporting is an important component.”
Corporate Sustainability Reporting
Companies in numerous sectors agreed to issue comprehensive sustainability reports in response to resolutions tracked by Ceres (lead filers are listed in parenthesis): Cameron International (Calvert), Coach, Inc. (Unitarian Universalist Association), Coherent (Walden Asset Management), Cousins Properties Incorporated (Laborer’s International Union North America), Lifepoint Hospitals (Calvert), Molycorp (Mercy Investment Services), Ralph Lauren (New York State Comptroller’s Office), SL Green (NY City Comptroller’s Office), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Trillium Asset Management), Kimco Realty (NYC), Roper Industries (Presbyterian Church USA), Wabtec (Walden).
In addition to company-wide reviews of policies, governance structures, and goals related to ESG performance, several of these resolutions request information on how companies are mitigating the risks of water scarcity and/or water pollution.
A record-breaking 67 percent of shareholders voted for a sustainability report request filed by the Presbyterian Church USA with CF Industries, a major fertilizer manufacturer. This industry suffered a recent calamity when a nitrogen fertilizer plant exploded in Texas in April, killing at least 15 people and causing as much as $ 100 million in damage to a small town. CF itself made news in June when an explosion killed one person and injured others at its fertilizer plant in Louisiana.
Board Oversight of Environmental and Social Matters
Calvert Investments secured agreements for board oversight of environmental and social matters from Lowe’s, Denbury Resources, Range Resources, and United Parcel Service (UPS).
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals
Walden withdrew its shareholder resolution from Stryker after an agreement by the company to gather data on its greenhouse gas emissions and begin setting goals to reduce them. “We believe it is critical for all companies to be able to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions by setting specific reduction goals and a clear plan to meet them,” said Timothy Smith, Senior Vice President and Director of Environmental Social and Governance Shareowner Engagement at Walden Asset Management.
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $11 trillion.