January 22, 2003
ICCR Proxy Resolutions Book Gauges Shareowner Action Climate
by William Baue
In its new publication, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility rounds up the social and
environmental shareowner resolutions to be voted on in the 2003 proxy season.
Next Monday, the Interfaith Center on Corporate
Responsibility (ICCR) will release its 2003 Proxy Resolutions Book. Part I lists the 92
companies where social and environmental resolutions have been filed for this year's upcoming proxy
season, collated to the 140 resolution titles and the names of each resolution's sponsors. Part
II, which represents the bulk of the book, reprints full texts of resolutions. The book thus
functions as a barometer of shareowner action, displaying which social and environmental issues are
foremost in investors' minds and which companies will feel the pressure.
it isn't exhaustive, this is the most comprehensive catalog of shareowner resolutions available in
one place," said ICCR Executive Director Sister Patricia Wolf. The Proxy Resolutions Book
comprises resolutions filed by members of ICCR's coalition of over 275 religious institutional
investors, as well as such diverse associates as Amnesty International USA, New York City Pension Funds, and the Women's Equity Mutual Fund.
ICCR thus covers a broad spectrum of investors involved in shareowner action.
understands from experience that it can increase its effectiveness on certain key issues by
proposing one or more resolutions to not just one company but several companies. In 2003, for
example, there is a plethora of resolutions related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate
change, and renewable energy.
"We have new resolutions this year that are focused on the
oil and gas sector, the auto sector, and utilities sector asking for reports on steps taken to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Sr. Wolf told SocialFunds.com. She highlighted the auto sector
resolutions, which ask General Motors (ticker: GM) and the
Company (F) to evaluate what new public policies would enable and assist the companies in
achieving GHG emissions reductions. "Are they willing to even engage in policy change? Advocating
public policy change is an entirely new area for resolutions."
The utilities sector
resolutions ask American Electric Power (AEP), Cinergy Corporation
Company (SO), and TXU Corporation (TXU) to report on
the potential economic benefits of committing to a substantial reduction in GHG emissions.
"Framing the resolution in such a positive light, especially in terms of making the business
case for attending to greenhouse gas emissions reduction, is really a substantial and novel part of
these resolutions," said Sr. Wolf.
Sr. Wolf also highlighted the resubmission of the
renewable energy resolution at ExxonMobil (XOM).
received over 20 percent of the vote last year at ExxonMobil on that resolution, which asks not
what they're doing in terms of renewables, but why haven't they done anything," said
Sr. Wolf. "That resolution really puts it to them."
ICCR members and associates have
filed five additional resolutions with ExxonMobil covering a wide range of issues, from human
rights standards and sexual orientation nondiscrimination to the impact of AIDS on operations and
competitive board elections.
There are several resolutions linking executive pay to
social and environmental performance this season. The Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds (CRPTF) linked
executive compensation to equal opportunity at Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Responsible Wealth and Trillium Asset Management linked
executive pay to predatory lending at Citigroup (C). The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which
joined ICCR as an associate this past year, linked executive pay to employee health insurance at Wal-Mart (WMT).
"One of the newer developments this proxy season is the expansion of corporate
governance resolutions," said Sr. Wolf. "A new resolution being supported by ICCR members is the
pay disparity resolution, asking for information on the highest paid to the lowest paid employee
over a 20-year period at 10-year intervals, from 1982 through 2002. At a time of what would appear
to be egregious executive pay, this resolution is a way of documenting the widening gap between
rich and poor on a company-by-company basis."
The pay disparity resolution has been filed
at such high visibility companies as AOL Time Warner (AOL) and General Electric
Finally, Sr. Wolf highlighted the increasing number of Canadian resolutions that
are making their way into the Proxy Resolutions Book. Placer Dome (PDG) has received
three separate resolutions, and the five top banks in the country have been asked to disclose their
social and environmental risks.
"The fact that we're publishing these Canadians
resolutions in our Proxy Resolutions Book shows the growth of the SRI movement beyond the United
States, which I think is important," said Sr. Wolf.