PC(USA) responsible investment committee celebrates another successful proxy season

Mission Responsibility Through Investment led on a record six shareholder proposals

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) is hailing another successful proxy season in which it achieved significant commitments from corporations to more closely align their practices with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policies.

Proxy season is a time when responsible shareholders such as the PC(USA), through MRTI, file proposals to advance significant policy matters related to unmanaged or undermanaged risks for publicly traded corporations. The proposals usually focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. These proposals are included in companies’ proxy statements which are voted on by all shareholders at the annual general meeting, which mostly take place April through June.

This year, the PC(USA) through MRTI was the lead filer on six resolutions, which topped last year’s record of five. All were withdrawn due to significant commitments made by the companies.

The Rev. Kerri Allen

“This successful season highlights the importance and benefits of working with interfaith partners and other faith- and values-based investors who are bringing the same issues to companies,” said the Rev. Kerri Allen, Chair of MRTI. “This creates additional investor pressure across the board.”

Here are the six companies and the requests that were made of them:

AIG: “… adopt and disclose new policies to help ensure that its underwriting practices do not support new fossil fuel supplies, in alignment with the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.”

Read more about MRTI’s engagement with AIG

American Airlines: “… conduct an evaluation and issue a report within the next year (at reasonable cost, omitting proprietary information) describing if, and how, American Airlines’ lobbying activities (directly and indirectly through trade associations and social welfare and nonprofit organizations) align with the Paris Climate Agreement’s aspirational goal of limiting average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report should also address the risks presented by any misaligned lobbying and the company’s plans, if any, to mitigate these risks.”

Dollar General: “… reduce its chemical footprint by adopting new policies including:

  • Expanding its chemical restrictions to include appropriate categories of third-party branded products
  • Accelerating the timetable to expand the number of chemicals addressed in the company’s Restricted Substance List using authoritative lists.”

Entergy: “… issue an independently audited report to shareholders that considers the strategic feasibility and financial consequences of committing to an 80% carbon pollution-free electricity interim net zero target by 2030 to align Entergy’s net zero climate commitments to the Paris-aligned U.S. nationally determined contribution electricity pledge. The Board should summarize its findings in a report to shareholders that is completed at reasonable cost and omit proprietary information.”

NVIDIA: “… commission an independent third-party report, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, on NVIDIA Corporation’s customer due diligence process to determine whether customers’ use of its products or services with surveillance technology and artificial intelligence capability or of its components that support autonomous military and police vehicles, contributes to human rights harms.”

PPL: “… issue an independently audited report to shareholders that considers the strategic feasibility and financial consequences of committing to an 80% carbon pollution-free electricity interim net zero target by 2030 to align PPL’s net zero climate commitments to the Paris-aligned U.S. nationally determined contribution electricity pledge. The Board should summarize its findings in a report to shareholders that is completed at reasonable cost and omit proprietary information.”

Click here to see MRTI’s 2022 Proxy Voting Recommendations

Rob Fohr

The second consecutive record-breaking year for MRTI is in line with trends in shareholder engagement, said Rob Fohr, Director of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement for the PC(USA) and lead staff person for MRTI.

“We saw companies coming to the table ready to make commitments aligned with the asks of our shareholder proposals, more so than in previous years,” Fohr said. “Some of this may be due to recent changes at the Securities and Exchange Commission making it more difficult for companies to challenge and seek to exclude shareholder proposals.”

For Presbyterians, the success of the season, which is still in progress, means the voice of the church is being heard by corporate entities.

“The PC(USA) engagement (through MRTI) with companies can have real impact,” Allen said. “Our voice combined with other faith- and values-based investors creates a powerful force, pushing companies to be better corporate citizens.”

The Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment and Office of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.


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