Tyson investors call for environmental, social changes
Aug. 24, 2016
by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
NEW YORK – A group of Tyson Foods’ investors as well as members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have filed five shareholder resolutions urging the company to make changes to certain environment, social and governance policies. The resolutions will be added to the company’s 2017 proxy ballot.
“The risks presented in these resolutions are significant and impact a broad group of stakeholders. Shareholders want the companies they invest in to use their influence to minimize environmental and social risk, and to have adequate corporate governance mechanisms in place,” said Nadira Narine, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. “Our members continue to call on Tyson to authentically engage its shareholders and other stakeholders to proactively address these important issues.”
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) is a 300-member coalition of shareholder advocates.
The resolutions filed include:
1. Water Impacts of Business Operations: The resolution requests that Tyson adopt and implement a water stewardship policy designed to reduce the risks of water contamination at Tyson-owned facilities, facilities under contract to Tyson and Tyson suppliers. This resolution was filed on behalf of the American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS).
“Tyson has paid significant fines for its water impacts and faces an ongoing criminal investigation by the EPA for its release of toxic pollutants into waterways. Apart from serious violations of the human right to water of impacted communities these breeches represent clear legal and financial risks that should be of concern to all shareholders,” said Michaele D. Birdsall of ABHMS.
2. Animal Welfare: The resolution asks Tyson to disclose the risks endangering the company and investors from emerging animal welfare issues and the steps the company has in place to address them. This resolution was sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.
“Study after study finds animal cruelty right at the top of consumers’ concerns about food production. As Tyson’s competitors and largest customers make moves to proactively address the biggest animal welfare concerns, Tyson appears to have fallen behind — putting investors at risk,” said proponent Matthew Prescott.
3. Board Diversity: The resolution requests that Tyson develop a report on the steps it is taking to foster greater diversity on its board, including the inclusion of women and minority candidates. This resolution is sponsored by Oxfam America.
“There is ample evidence that greater board diversity leads to improved performance on a variety of measures including the health and welfare of workers and general sustainability, as well as a reduction in reputational and legal risk. Given that nearly two-thirds of Tyson’s workforce is comprised of people of color, yet only one person of color sits on their board, we believe the company needs to do a better job of more intentionally promoting diversity,” said Oliver Gottfried of Oxfam.
4. Lobbying Disclosure: The resolution requests a report detailing policies and procedures governing Tyson’s direct or indirect lobbying activities and Tyson’s membership in, and payments to, tax-exempt organizations that write or endorse model legislation. The resolution was filed on behalf of Mercy Investment Services.
5. Plant-Based Eating: The resolution seeks to learn what steps Tyson will take to address risks to the business from the increase in plant-based eating. The resolution was sponsored by Green Century Capital Management.
“The demand for plant-based proteins is skyrocketing, and needs to be considered and accounted for in business planning. Failure to see around corners and adjust to changing demands places the company at a great disadvantage relative to its competitors in the food industry who are already innovating in this area,” said Marissa LaFave of Green Century Capital Management.
The resolutions are set to appear on the 2017 company ballot, to be voted by all shareholders at the next annual meeting in early 2017.