Socially Responsible Investing began as a way to screen out companies that were environmentally or socially harmful. However, as SRI has advanced, the aspect of Shareholder Engagement has become a powerful aspect in producing the greatest impact. We are proud that the mutual fund managers we use are highly proactive in the Shareholder Engagement process. We are also proud that our clients can contribute to their efforts via their investments. We wanted to share two on-the-ground stories of their Shareholder Engagement work and how they are advancing corporate responsibility.
Parnassus Investments - Wells Fargo
Since the 2016 controversies of unethical account opening and lending to stakeholders of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Parnassus Investments has taken the initiative to engage with Wells Fargo. This has been done through in-person meetings with their CEO, direct conversations with the Wells Fargo Environmental and Social Risk team, and planned meetings with their CFO. Through these lines of communication, Parnassus has been able to express their dissatisfaction of Wells fargo’s business practices and the resulting consequences. And they aren’t the only ones doing so…they were one of 50+ co-signers on an Investor Statement to Wells Fargo urging them to help mediate negotiations for the DAPL as exemplified by this excerpt “We call on the banks to address or support the Tribe’s request for a reroute and utilize their influence as a project lender to reach a peaceful solution that is acceptable to all parties, including the Tribe.” Click here for a news story about the Investor Statement that has been filed.
The official response from Wells Fargo is still developing, but we are thrilled to see investor’s using their shareholder status to drive corporate responsibility.
Green Century - Starbucks
Following dialogue with Green Century, Starbucks has just agreed to only serve poultry raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics in its US locations by 2020. In September 2016, a consortium of consumer and food safety groups released a report ranking top restaurants on the use of antibiotics in their meat supply chains. Starbucks was ranked among the worst, receiving an ‘F’ in terms of routine antibiotics use for poultry, beef, and pork compared to industry peers. Significantly, 66% of consumers said it is important for the stores where they shop to carry meat and poultry products free of antibiotics.
Antibiotics in food products is a major driver of antibiotic resistance. The Center for Disease Control says that antibiotic resistance is estimated to cause at least two million human illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
Starbucks’ updated animal welfare statement also includes a new commitment for all broiler chickens to be produced in alignment with Global Animal Partnership standards by 2024.
Green Century Capital Management (Green Century) is the only mutual fund company founded and owned by environmental advocacy organizations. Some of their other recent Shareholder victories include:
• Persuading Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Kellogg’s, and Starbucks to reduce carbon created by burning rainforests.
• Pressure Pepsi to support sustainable agriculture and bee populations by reducing the use of high-risk neonicotinoid pesticides across its supply chains.
• Successfully pressure Avon to eliminate the hormone-disrupting chemical triclosan from its cosmetics and personal care line.
We hope you found these on-the-ground Shareholder Engagement stories interesting and insightful. As always, feel free to pass these articles to others or share your comments with us!