Shareholder Action Summer Report Card
proxy voting season winding down for 2003 its time to check the
scorecard and poke a little fun at the participants.
year so far has turned into one of the busiest years for shareholder
activists ever in Canada, with some 64 different resolutions filed
with 38 different companies. In the US, the number this year was a whopping
1,034 filed so far. The majority of the resolutions were aimed at
corporate governance issues around board composition, stock option
plans, and accounting issues--popular issues in a post Enron world.
both sides of the border about 23 per cent of the resolutions dealt
with social and environmental issues and this is where my interest
level begins to rise. Lets look at some of the highlights and my
(totally scientific and unbiased) schools out for summer letter grade:
Responsible Water Use: Coke and Pepsi:
· Coke gets a B for actually having a water
team and plan in place. Who Knew! Withdrawn. Filers
· Pepsi sent to the detention hall and gets
a D- . Tried to block resolution at the SEC and lost the Pepsi
challenge. 8 per cent vote at the AGM gets us the right to file again
next year. Filers RA, TR
Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
· IPSCO Steel : Poor disclosure history.
Gets a D+ after record 49.2 per cent vote in favour raises hope that
company will join the rest of the (toxic emitters) class and hand in
reports to Environment Canada. Filer: EFI
· Nexen: Gets a C and withdrawal of
resolution. Agrees to better reporting when the Fed’s clarify the Kyoto rules! Filer: RA, EFI, OPSEU
· PetroCanada: C-
Good work in past but reporting is slipping. 7.7 per cent vote means
company needs to try harder! RA, EFI, OPSEU
Responsible Banking: Asking for
social environmental and ethic risk reporting. Filers
· ScotiaBank: Leader of the Pack this year!
Gets a B and withdrawal of resolution with good start to internal CSR
project and attention in class to the section on Global Reporting
Initiative (GRI). Will Consider GRI .
· CIBC: C and voted “Trying Hardest to
Please” Open to Board Level dialogue and
also considering GRI. Withdrawn
· TD: Gets an F for non-responsiveness. But
27.1 per cent of its shareholders want student to get with it.
· Royal Bank: C- and
a 10.4 per cent positive vote. Needs to try harder but shareholders
don’t think they’re doing that badly.
· Bank of Montreal: C A record
29.9 per cent yes vote got BIMO’s attention and they’re back to talking
about the issue! Who says size doesn’t matter!
Sweatshop Labour/Human Rights:
· Sears Canada: Gets an F again this
semester and a 7.7 per cent vote. Spending too much time at the back of
the class with the other sweat hogs. Should spend more time following
parent firm’s (US Sears Roebuck) actions instead of its
voting habits (which owns 54 per cent of Sears Canada voting stock that
makes the 7.7 per cent vote really 26 per cent of the minority
shareholders) Sears Roebuck has been more progressive on this issue in
the US. Filers: RA,
· Hudson’s Bay: Gets a C+ as an improving
ex-sweaty. Looking for Industry wide agreement on supply
chain standards. Withdrawn. Filers RA, WE
2002 Follow Up: Human Rights Campaign
- Enbridge: Gets an A- this semester. Last
year’s work 90 per cent complete! Way to go!
Marking Key: These grades are
strictly interim summer break marks subject to the whim of the author.
Marks above A- are not expected this decade and all pupils are expected
to improve their corporate social, ethical and environmental
performance next term!
Filers Key: RA=Real Assets; EFI=
Ethical Funds; MER = Meritas Funds; TR= Trillium Asset Management;
OPSEU= Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union; WE= Working Enterprises
is only a sampling of the filings this year. For a more serious list
please refer to www.share.ca for an
updated list of shareholder proposals in Canada and www.socialfunds.com/sa/status.cgi
for the US list. More on
the specific campaigns on www.realassets.ca
Perry Abbey is an investment advisor at
United Capital Securities Inc. a Working Enterprises company. Helping
individuals and organizations harmonize their money with their values
and leverage capital for change.