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September 19, 2011
Trillium Wraps Up 2011 Proxy Season
    by Robert Kropp

Asset management firm's resolutions led to successful engagement on environmental reporting, political spending, and Internet privacy.

The 2011 proxy season was the first in which overall support for social and environmental shareowner proposals exceeded 20%. Resolutions addressing sustainability reporting, sexual orientation and gender identity, refinery safety procedures, political contributions, and risk management relating to coal combustion waste gained the support of a majority of voters.

For more than 20 years, Trillium Asset Management has played a key role in engaging with companies to improve their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) performance, and in 2011 the Boston-based investment management firm has continued that tradition.

The company either led or co-led in filing resolutions or otherwise engaging with nearly two dozen US-based companies in 2011. Nine resolutions received more than 20% of shareowner support, and another eight resolutions were withdrawn following successful engagement.

Environmental resolutions requesting that ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil report on the environmental and social impacts of tar sands oil extraction won 28% and 26% of shareowner votes respectively. In addition, a resolution requesting that Chevron add an environmental expert to its Board of Directors received a vote of 25%.

A request co-filed with As You Sow asking Coca-Cola to report on alternatives to Bisphenol-A (BPA) in its product packaging gained a 25% vote, while a similar proposal at Dentsply was withdrawn. Accordi ng to Trillium, Dentsply "agreed to meet with us and a leading scientist on BPA to discuss the science behind their products."

On social issues, a resolution at Home Depot asking the company to disclose workplace demographic data received support from 30% of shareowners, while resolutions asking Gardner Denver and Lowes for policies to ensure nondiscrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered workers were withdrawn.

A resolution requesting that CenturyLink was also withdrawn, after the company agreed to policies incorporating Internet privacy and freedom of expression.

Resolutions addressing political spending gained significant minority support at Halliburton (46%), State Street (44%), IBM (31%), and 3M (36%), while similar resolutions at Pentair, Best Buy, and Target were withdrawn.

Trillium noted that an ongoing shareowner campaign led by the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) "has resulted in the adoption of best practices in political disclosure by 85 companies, of which 50 are in the S&P 100." According to CPA, the numbers are now 87 companies overall, 51 of which are in the S&P 100.


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