December 22, 2004
Dell and Starbucks First Companies to Endorse Calvert Women's Principles
by William Baue
The two companies publicly commit to implement the code in their business practices, setting a
precedent for other companies to follow in promoting parity for women in business.
Earlier this week, Dell (ticker: DELL) and Starbucks (SBUX) became the
first corporations to endorse the Calvert Women's Principles, a code that
encompasses seven broad goals for promoting gender equity and women's empowerment. The Calvert Group, the largest socially
responsible investment (SRI) mutual fund firm in the US with approximately $10 billion in assets
under management, launched the principles earlier this year to address the under- acknowledged
issue of systemic gender bias in the corporate community. Calvert also believes there are
unrealized business opportunities to profit from unleashing women's fuller potential.
"Starbucks enthusiastically supports the Calvert Women's Principles because we
see a strong business case for gender equality and women's empowerment," said Sandra Taylor, senior
vice president for corporate responsibility at Starbucks.
By endorsing the principles,
Starbucks and Dell not only publicly support the principles' goals, but also commit to taking
concrete steps to implement the principles in their business practices over time, according to
Elizabeth Laurienzo, Calvert's director of corporate communications.
is encouraging companies to voluntarily endorse the principles," Ms. Laurienzo told
SocialFunds.com. "However, we are exploring ways to monitor companies' progress and track
compliance with the Women's Principles and to develop grading and rating systems for
measuring companies' performance."
"Auditing and verification regimes will need to be
developed," she added. "In the meantime, we have been careful to place disclosure and reporting at the
heart of the Calvert Women's Principles, and have included specific principles on these
The principles also address employment and income; health, safety, and
violence; civic and community engagement; management and governance; education, training, and
professional development; and business, supply chain, and marketing practices.
As of now,
there is one more company ready to endorse the principles, according to Ms. Laurienzo, and other
companies are encouraged to endorse them as well. As an added inducement, Calvert is working on
incorporating the principles into its screening process--companies that do not address the women's
issues articulated in the principles increase the risk of being excluded from Calvert portfolios.
"We also plan to launch ratings of companies based on their performance on specific issues
next year," Ms. Laurienzo added.
If companies perform particularly poorly on the
principles' indicators, Calvert intends to engage them in dialogue, and is prepared to file
shareowner resolutions on these issues if companies continue to be unresponsive. As of now,
however, Calvert has no plans to engage on shareowner action on issues enumerated in the principles
this upcoming proxy season.