August 03, 2018
Shareholders Represented by SumOfUs Say Dairy Giant Expansion Poses Risk to Workers Rights, Could Result in Brand Damage and Lower Shareholder Value
MONTREAL -- Ahead of Saputo’s annual general meeting of shareholders on August 7th, renowned proxy advisor firm, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), has come out in support of a shareholder resolution calling on the company to institute a human rights risk assessment.
Earlier this month ISS, in defiance of the board’s recommendations, urged shareholders to vote FOR the resolution, explaining:
“Although SAP has disclosed certain related policies within its Code of Ethics and pursuant to the Saputo Promise initiative, including measurable metrics such as injury frequency rate and lost time frequency rate, the company does not provide specifics about potential human rights-related risks and does not provide detailed information with respect to risk assessments conducted prior to entering a business relationship. Half of the company's Canadian peers have publicly disclosed more information, including codes of conduct specific to suppliers and additional information about potential risks within Corporate Sustainability Reports dedicated to ESG issues.
“As the company expands into international markets, disclosure about the factors the company considers when it conducts its human rights risk assessments and details of any resultant company policies or procedures, such as any existing supplier monitoring or auditing processes, if any, would help shareholders better understand how the company is managing human rights-related issues. As a result, shareholder support for this proposal is warranted.”
The resolution (ITEM 3), submitted by international consumer group SumOfUs on behalf of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), calls on the company to institute a human rights risk assessment. SumOfUs argues that as Saputo has made significant acquisitions into markets in Canada, the US, Argentina, Europe and Australia, and its workforce has expanded in size and geographic dispersion, human rights and worker abuses in Saputo's operations and supply chain could inflict significant brand damage and lower shareholder value.
VIEW THE SHAREHOLDER PROPOSAL HERE: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eosEvr__VSfCK6QPo3H3C4zquyY6YhcI/view
“Saputo needs to back up its ‘Saputo Promise’ with action. And a clear way to do that is to comprehensively identify and analyze potential and actual human rights risks in its entire operations and supply chain,” explained Emma Pullman, Lead Campaign Strategist for SumOfUs. “This is is not just good a good policy for workers. As the company and its global reach grows, it also makes good business sense. Shareholders deserve to have a full suite of information that helps them understand how actual and potential human rights issues and risks are and will be managed."
“As a shareholder, we want to see Saputo back up its commitment to protect workers with a comprehensive operations and supply chain human rights assessment related to Saputo’s use of labour contractors, subcontractors and temporary staffing,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “This will give us greater confidence in our investment.”
Nearly 1,500 customers and prospective customers, employees and shareholders contacted their pension and mutual funds, using SumOfUs’ Pension tool, ahead of the vote urging them to vote in favour of this proposal.
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