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Winter Olympic Games: Investors Call for Non-Discrimination
By Michael Schweibinz

As Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympic Games, responsible investors are calling attention to the discriminatory reality that Russian law restricts the rights of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens to free speech and freedom to assemble.

Earlier this month, New York State Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, revealed that the “$160 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, leading a coalition of investors that manages $327 billion” of assets, has sent messages to ten major corporate sponsors of the upcoming winter games. These letters recommend that the sponsors use their economic clout to protect the human rights of Russian citizens, athletes, and visitors to the Sochi Olympic Games.

With sponsorship and broadcast revenue funding “92 percent” of the costs of the Winter Games, investors recognize that the voices of these sponsoring corporations have real power. By calling on these companies to voice their opposition to Russia’s discriminatory laws, investors seek to ensure right action and protect shareholder value.

The brand value of Coca-ColaDow ChemicalGeneral ElectricOmegaMcDonaldsPanasonicProctor & GambleSamsung, and Visa are at risk. Investors are pressuring sponsoring companies to act, to influence the Russian government and the International Olympic Committee, and to hopefully create an environment characterized by fairness and equality, consistent with global Olympic games.

First Affirmative is proud to be among those who have urged the corporate sponsors to act to:

  • Ensure their nondiscrimination policies are strong, inclusive and enforced globally, especially in regard to employees stationed or on location in Russia;
  • Call on the leaders of the Russian Federation to rescind the laws that deprive members of Russia’s LGBT community of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and declare their commitment to equality irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity; and
  • Call on the International Olympic Committee to obtain firm and express commitments from the Russian government that ensure the safety and human rights of all athletes and attendees of the Winter Games and visitors to the Games’ venues.

 

You can read more on how investors are calling for human rights action.

 

First Affirmative understands that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?

Mention of specific companies or securities should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Posted: January 13, 2014