Zevin is a leader in the shareholder engagement space, frequently using targeted investor proposals to challenge companies on mismanagement and long-term ESG risks. In 2016, it filed 32 shareholder resolutions (leading 20 of them). Of those resolutions, 11 were successfully withdrawn, indicating a company made a commitment to change its practices, in response to Zevin’s advocacy. Zevin has also brought important issues to the mainstream by introducing shareholder resolutions on novel issues in recent years, including paid family leave, risks stemming from criminal background checks, the racial pay gap, and minimum wage reform.
In addition to filing shareholder resolutions, Zevin has private dialogues with around 50 companies a year regarding their social and environmental impacts. In 2017, Zevin Asset Management’s advocacy contributed to meaningful changes at Starbucks on paid family leave policy, PepsiCo on climate change risk and greenhouse gas emissions, and Apple on diversity and inclusion. Zevin also joins other investors to collaboratively engage with companies on important issues, often times leading the charge.
Moving Companies Forward on Paid Family Leave
In 2017, Zevin Asset Management wrote to more than a dozen U.S. firms whose policies are inadequate because they don’t meet the needs of modern families or they are unequal between types of parents/classes of workers.
We began productive dialogues with several companies, and we filed shareholder proposals at companies where we were concerned about a lack of progress. Shareholder proposals asking companies to consider enhancing their approaches to paid family leave were filed at Starbucks, CVS Health, Walmart Stores, and YUM! Brands.
Companies are moving in response to engagement and increasing public interest in positive worker policies. All four shareholder proposals led to progress (without going to a vote), and dialogues have also been successful.
- Starbucks extended paid family leave benefits to fathers and adoptive parents regardless of whether they work in corporate roles or as baristas in stores.
- CVS Health added a broad-based four-week benefit for all full-time parents (including birth mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and foster parents). This is added to the existing six-week short term disability benefit for those employees who give birth and extended a lifeline to dads and adoptive parents.
- Walmart had previously not given hourly workers who were non-birthing parents any paid leave and had given hourly birthing mothers only partial pay for six weeks. In January 2018, the company announced it will give the same parental leave to salaried employees and full-time hourly employees: 16 weeks for birthing mothers and six weeks for all other parents, fully paid. The change impacts about 500,000 families and sets a new basic standard in the marketplace.
- Over the next 18 months, YUM! Brands will review extending additional paid family leave benefits.
- After an autumn 2017 meeting, The TJX Companies made a modest four-week extension to its policy