Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner today released an overview of the actions his office has taken over the past year to encourage companies in which the pension fund investments to adopt more responsible and sustainable corporate behavior.
"The long-term sustainability of companies in the pension fund is vital to the retirement system and to our members and retirees who spend their careers in public service," said Treasurer Magaziner. "Shareholder engagement allows us to advocate on behalf of our members and hold corporate management and boards accountable."
Highlights of Rhode Island's 2019 shareholder engagement include:
- Pressing pharmaceutical companies to adopt policies that to strengthen corporate disclosure and accountability, especially as it relates to their role in the opioid crisis.
- Opposing excessive executive compensation proposals at dozens of companies, including JP Morgan Chase, General Motors and Walt Disney Company, where executive pay packages were not justified by the company's performance.
- Securing an agreement from Archer Daniels Midland, one of the largest agricultural processors, to assess the feasibility of adopting company-wide goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including increasing its use of renewable energy.
- Co-filing a shareholder proposal with Facebook, asking the board to strengthen its corporate governance by separating the roles of CEO and Board Chair. 68% of independent shareholder votes were cast in favor of the proposal.
Research shows that companies that actively measure and manage material sustainability issues are better positioned to deliver long-term value to investors – including members of the pension system and all Rhode Island taxpayers.
Rhode Island's pension fund holds shares in thousands of companies in its investment portfolio. Each year, publicly traded companies ask shareholders to vote on issues including the election of board members and executive pay packages, as well as proposals from shareholders on environmental, social and governance issues.
Treasurer Magaziner's 2019 Shareholder Engagement Overview can be found at: http://treasury.ri.gov/2019_shareholder
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