Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) refers to investment strategies that seek not only to provide financial return but also the process of selecting companies in which to invest in that have sustainable and ethical environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.
As a leader in SRI, United Church Funds (UCF) makes it a priority to thoughtfully and effectively respond to urgent calls for social action from the United Church of Christ, our investors and other SRI partners. UCF implements three SRI strategies: shareholder engagement, proxy voting and exclusionary screening.
UCF is pleased to share positive updates on our work in corporate dialogues and shareholder resolutions.
Water, Indigenous Peoples Rights
For the second year, UCF co-filed a resolution calling on Marathon Petroleum to prepare a report to shareholders. The requested report would describe the due diligence process used to identify and address environmental and social risks, including Indigenous rights risk, in reviewing potential acquisitions after the company’s involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline and the subsequent protests and violence with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Marathon Petroleum implemented the following changes on its website:
In exchange for these changes to the corporation’s policies and disclosures, the lead filer – The New York State Comptroller’s Office – withdrew the resolution. Once a lead filler has withdrawn a resolution, co-filers are obliged to withdraw as well.
Proxy Voting Policies
BNY Mellon has a poor record of voting for environmental resolutions, which is consistent with the services and data the company provides to its clients regarding environmental, social and governance. UCF again co-filed a resolution regarding how companies vote for shareholder proposals at their annual meetings. UCF intends to attend BNY Mellon’s annual meeting in April.
Investors for Opioid Accountability
UCF is part of a 44-member investor coalition seeking governance changes in the opioid manufacturing and distribution sector. The coalition has already celebrated some wins:
UCF is the lead filer at AbbVie and is part of a contingent of investors seeking executive compensation plans of pharmaceutical companies to reward innovation and public good, rather than rewarding drug price increases.
Examples of some compensation arrangements that suggest a long-term focus on value generation include:
Several pharma companies have been engaged for their involvement about their policies that provide low- and middle-income countries access to the treatments they develop to combat the World Health Organization’s list of high priority disease states. Eli Lilly, AbbVie and Merck have indicated that they will no longer submit to the Access to Medicines Index, which quantifies how well pharma companies structure and execute their access programs.
Human Rights in Occupied Territories
UCF is acting as the lead on a letter campaign to the HP companies to seek further information after the companies’ spinoffs about where business units that had human rights implications in the Occupied Territories.
Ethical Business Standards
UCF, as part of a group of shareholders, withdrew a resolution with Wells Fargo after the company agreed in a meeting on October 18, 2017, to issue a report detailing the outcomes of a business standards review. Shareholders seek to avoid further lending scandals with the company.
To learn more about SRI at UCF or contact us at [email protected] to discuss on how to align your investments with your values.