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Two Companies, Two Experiences
By Laura Isanuk

An Insider's Look at Presenting a Shareholder Resolution

With the 2016 Proxy voting season nearly over, we wanted to highlight our experiences presenting resolutions at a selection of annual meetings.  In the past companies have not been the most welcoming to our community. They cannot prevent our resolution from taking place, but when the meeting happens we were often refuted or even ignored. While management today still rarely supports these resolutions (for if they do it is likely withdrawn before it goes to a vote), we are beginning to see a change in how they accept our engagement. You will read some of this variety below. A few of the resolutions recounted were filed by First Affirmative, but others were filed by partner organizations, including network advisors. We are proud to be part of such a dedicated community with a combined mission of challenging great companies to become even greater.

Two Companies, Two Experiences

By Ken Jacobs

T.J._MaxxThis year I had the opportunity to present at two annual meetings, Chipotle and TJX, the parent company for TJ Maxx, Marshalls and other retailers.  Each resolution involved an interesting twist on the issue of executive compensation.  The Chipotle resolution asked the company to link executive pay to sustainability metrics.  My colleague Renee Morgan presented another resolution simply asking that Chipotle actually report on their sustainability initiatives, rather than just tout them for marketing purposes! At TJX, the resolution asked the board to report on the contrast between executive compensation and the earnings of the median employee acknowledging  that in some companies in the retail sector employees in the lower ranks may be eligible for food stamps or other public welfare benefits, given the low level of their compensation.  My son and assistant Max seconded the TJX resolution.  It was nice to have him agree with me for a change!

At Chipotle, our comments received only a polite, lukewarm reception. They didn't even offer us a burrito! My resolution received 23% of the vote, while Renee's resolution received 43%. At TJX, however, we found the reception warmer. A senior HR manager actually approached me after the meeting and we had a very interesting conversation.  She acknowledged that associates in their stores, who are paid a minimum of $10 an hour, often do not earn a "living wage."  This resolution got 5.23% of the shareholder vote, but lead to a lengthy follow-up discussion. TJX has not (yet) agreed to focus further study the wage issue, so it is likely this resolution will be re-filed to keep the pressure on.

First Affirmative understands that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?

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

Posted: August 5, 2016