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Boston Trust Walden

PRI reporting framework 2020

You are in Strategy and Governance » Promoting responsible investment

Promoting responsible investment

SG 09. Collaborative organisations / initiatives

09.1. Select the collaborative organisation and/or initiatives of which your organisation is a member or in which it participated during the reporting year, and the role you played.

Select all that apply

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden has substantial involvement in various PRI initiatives and is an active participant in committees and working groups including:

  • Corporate Reporting Reference Group
  • Global Public Policy Committee
  • Labour Standards working group
  • Listed Equities working group
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advisory Committee and SDG working group

We also contribute to publications and case studies prepared by PRI. In 2019, we authored a case-study on corporate public policy lobbying engagement and its connection to SDG16, Engaging on Corporate Public Policy Lobbying.

Throughout the year, we also serve as a general resource to provide input to or on behalf of PRI. In 2019, for example, we participated in PRI’s SDG Self-Assessment Questionnaire. We also spoke on a PRI reporting webinar, providing a long-term PRI member’s perspective and advice regarding the reporting process. Boston Trust Walden is a frequent signatory to various RI initiatives led/co-led by PRI (e.g., the Global Investors Statement to Governments on Climate Change), as well as other investor collaborations posted in the Clearinghouse.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

As a CDP investor signatory, Boston Trust Walden continues to support CDP's Non-Disclosure Campaign across climate, forests, and water. In 2019, we were an investor signatory on letters encouraging non-responding companies to disclose their exposure to and management of climate risks. We promote CDP disclosure in relevant dialogues and shareholder resolutions and use CDP data in our engagement efforts, through which we have successfully encouraged companies to complete the questionnaire. Boston Trust Walden is also identified as a member/signatory in CDP's own company outreach. 

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden is a member of CDP and continues to support CDP's Non-Disclosure Campaign across forests. In 2019, we were an investor signatory on letters encouraging non-responding companies to disclose their exposure to and management of forest risks. We promote CDP disclosure in relevant dialogues and use CDP data in our engagement efforts, through which we have successfully encouraged companies to complete the questionnaire. Boston Trust Walden is also identified as a member/signatory in CDP's own company outreach. 

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden is a member of CDP and continues to support CDP's Non-Disclosure Campaign across water. In 2019, we were an investor signatory on letters encouraging non-responding companies to disclose their exposure to and management of water risks. We promote CDP disclosure in relevant dialogues and use CDP data in our engagement efforts, through which we have successfully encouraged companies to complete the questionnaire. Boston Trust Walden is also identified as a member/signatory in CDP's own company outreach. 

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

As a member of Climate Action 100+, Boston Trust Walden has participated in engagements with at least seven companies, some in a leadership/active capacity and some as a supporting investor.

In September, Boston Trust Walden co-led a global investor letter asking 47 of the largest U.S. publicly traded companies to align their climate lobbying with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The letter was sent as part of the Climate Action 100+ engagement agenda from 200 institutional investors representing $6.5 trillion in assets under management. The asks of the letter are being integrated into the collaborative engagements. While results are still unfolding, we expect measurable progress in the coming year. 

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

We continued to work closely with ICCR, sometimes in a leadership capacity and other times in a supportive role. In 2019, we co-chaired the Political Spending and Lobbying working group, served on the steering committee of the Climate Change group, and were an active member of the Methane Working Group. We also participated in ICCR's Investor Alliance for Human Rights, a collective action platform for responsible investment grounded in respect for people's fundamental rights. 

Boston Trust Walden concluded a multi-year collaboration with ICCR that asked more than 100 companies to adopt science-based greenhouse gas reduction goals. In February, we presented a project summary and set of conclusions. Throughout the year, we continued to engage and follow the progress of several portfolio companies.

We also regularly attend and participate in planning and strategy sessions, co-sign letters, help coordinate and prepare materials for shareholder actions, offer strategic guidance and support on key initiatives (e.g. broad-based campaign to preserve shareholders’ right to file resolutions), and speak at ICCR meetings.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

We continue to have extensive involvement in the Policy Working Group (on climate and energy), which promotes environmental sustainability at the federal and state levels through better standards, commitments to renewables, etc., as well as with SICS (Ceres' Shareholder Initiative on Climate and Sustainability), which focuses on shareholder resolutions. We advocate for science-based goals, strong renewable energy targets, value chain engagement, and public policy alignment. This involves coordination of investor coalitions to ensure strategic targeting of engagement and preparation of materials such as template letters, resolutions, and investor briefs. Boston Trust Walden also represents the investor perspective in Ceres' organized stakeholder groups (e.g., Jones Lang LaSalle) and at events and on webinars (e.g., climate lobbying panelist at Ceres conference, Lobby Day participant, speaker to group of 75 companies addressing carbon pricing). In addition, we participate regularly in strategy development sessions. as well as provide input and sign on to numerous investor coalition letters. We remain actively engaged in protecting the proxy process, including shareholders' rights to file resolutions, and continued our participation in the Ceres Investor Water Hub collaboration to better integrate water risk and opportunities into investment decision-making. In addition, we occasionally host offsite meetings for Ceres staff.

 

          US SIF
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden is represented on US SIF’s board of directors. Also as co-chair of the US SIF Public Policy Committee, Boston Trust Walden helps set priorities and coordinate public policy initiatives. We also contribute meaningfully in various working groups and projects. We periodically speak at conferences, including a session on stakeholder engagement at the US SIF annual conference, participate in videos and webinars, join Hill Day public policy sessions, and contribute to reports on investor action (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals). 

We are collaborating with industry peers and partner organizations to mobilize a broad-based campaign to preserve shareholders’ right to file resolutions. We have joined an investor coalition that focuses exclusively on the proxy process and are coordinating actions with Ceres, US SIF, and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. 

          AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO)
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden and AFSCME continued to jointly lead a coalition of investors seeking greater corporate lobbying accountability. A coalition of at least 70 institutional and individual investors filed proposals at 33 companies (for the 2019 proxy season) asking for disclosure reports that include federal and state lobbying payments, payments to trade associations and social welfare groups used for lobbying, and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation. The year’s campaign had a thematic focus on climate lobbying.

Since 2011, this coalition has filed nearly 400 shareholder proposals with engagement efforts leading to more than 75 agreements to provide greater lobbying disclosure. Investors have also written and held conversations with numerous companies on lobbying issues without filing resolutions. 

          Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Investor Advisory Group (IAG)
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden is part of SASB's Investor Advisory Group (IAG), which supports SASB's framework for consistent, comparable, and reliable disclosure of financially material, decision-useful ESG information. We led and facilitated SASB IAG collaborative engagements with companies to encourage adoption of the standard.  

          The Thirty Percent Coalition
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

In 2019, Boston Trust Walden continued to serve as co-chair of the institutional investor group of the Thirty Percent Coalition. This collaborative network defines, coordinates, and implements a shareholder engagement strategy for institutional investors to promote greater gender diversity on corporate boards in the U.S. In a July press release, the Thirty Percent Coalition reported engagement with approximately 250 companies in the previous year and observed significant progress, including 85 companies appointing a woman to their boards and the addition of a second woman to 16 corporate boards. Since the Adopt a Company Campaign launched in 2012, 275 companies have appointed women to their boards, most for the first time.

 

          Various groups
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

There are numerous other organizations in which we have significant and/or regular involvement to promote responsible investment, such as Access to Medicine, As You Sow, Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, Confluence Philanthropy, FAIRR, the Intentional Endowments Network, and the Workforce Disclosure Initiative. In any given year, our participation may range from basic to advanced in these and other groups.


SG 09.2. Assets managed by PRI signatories (Not Applicable)


SG 10. Promoting RI independently

10.1. Indicate if your organisation promotes responsible investment, independently of collaborative initiatives.

10.2. Indicate the actions your organisation has taken to promote responsible investment independently of collaborative initiatives. Provide a description of your role in contributing to the objectives of the selected action and the typical frequency of your participation/contribution.

Description

          Representatives of our firm regularly speak at events, round tables, and conferences to promote responsible investment. In 2019, these included educational initiatives, speaking engagements, and interviews organized by various organizations/networks promoting RI (e.g., US SIF, Ceres, Confluence Philanthropy, Responsible Investor), investment advisors (e.g., Cornerstone Capital Group), institutional investors (e.g., New York State Comptroller, Unitarian Universalist Association), academic institutions (e.g., Boston College, MIT), and others (e.g., Skytop Strategies, Morningstar). We also contributed to thought leadership publications such as GRI research on investor expectations regarding corporate reporting on water and greenhouse gas emissions (A Closer Look at Water and GHG Emissions Disclosure) and strategic guidance and input on the Global Sourcing Impact Coalition’s toolkit (Reducing Poverty through Employment). Boston Trust Walden is also active in groups such as the Shareholder Rights Group, convened to preserve the right to file shareholder resolutions.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          Encouraging investment firms to strengthen practices and transparency with respect to responsible investment is a priority of Boston Trust Walden. Foremost, we engage actively with investment firms to promote thoughtful consideration of company sustainability performance in proxy voting and engagement practices (including major institutional investment firms that are not among our portfolio holdings). We provide case studies modelling best practices and transparency—both in our own publications, as well as through contributions to other entities such as PRI and As You Sow. We model effective shareholder engagement and provide advice to asset managers and asset owners through our service on the SASB Investor Advisory Group. In addition, we provide feedback to investment service industry participants (e.g., proxy voting services, investment research firms, mutual fund ratings providers, trade associations) to advocate for robust analysis and consideration of sustainability performance in their unique venues.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          We regularly speak at events, webinars, and conferences organized by US SIF, Ceres, ICCR, PRI and others. Sometimes our presentations address RI generally and other times we provide issue-specific content. In 2019, for example, we spoke at the annual US SIF conference on leading practices in stakeholder engagement. Our responses in SG 09 provides many other examples.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          In additional to quarterly client updates on ESG research and engagement, which are published on our website, we produce and distribute more in-depth publications on topical issues, including our report on the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). We also publish an annual impact report detailing efforts on active ownership strategies, ESG integration, public policy advocacy, thought leadership, and our firm's ESG performance.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          We regularly refer to PRI as a means to institutionalize the conversation about ESG investing and promote responsible investing, including in our communications with portfolio companies to convey the extent of institutional investor interest in ESG incorporation. We have encouraged investment firms in which we invest to join PRI and challenged PRI members to do more to demonstrate ESG integration and active ownership, particularly with respect to proxy voting. When we introduce shareholder resolutions at company annual meetings, we routinely reference PRI to make it part of the public record. PRI is also often referenced in our shareholder resolutions explicitly. We post PRI’s logo and provide a link to PRI and our transparency reports on our website. We routinely reference PRI in our existing client and consultant presentations and communications and describe our involvement in Requests for Proposals.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          We often find opportunities to provide input to NGOs through consultations.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          Several investment professionals participate in formal PRI committees and working groups. In 2019, these included: 
•	Corporate Reporting Reference Group
•	Global Public Policy Committee
•	Labour Standards working group
•	Listed Equities working group 
•	Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advisory Committee and SDG working group
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          Boston Trust Walden investment professionals serve on boards, advisory boards, or official committees of US SIF, PRI, ICCR, and SASB.
        

Frequency of contribution

10.3. Describe any additional actions and initiatives that your organisation has taken part in during the reporting year to promote responsible investment [Optional]

 

 


SG 11. Dialogue with public policy makers or standard setters

11.1. Indicate if your organisation - individually or in collaboration with others - conducted dialogue with public policy makers or regulators in support of responsible investment in the reporting year.

If yes

11.2. Select the methods you have used.

11.3. Where you have made written submissions (individually or collaboratively) to governments and regulatory authorities, indicate if these are publicly available.

11.4. Provide a brief description of the main topics your organisation has engaged with public policy-makers or regulators on.

Complex issues such as climate change and employment equality cannot be adequately addressed on a company-by-company basis. Effective public policy and regulation at the local, state, national, and international levels is needed to solve many long-term environmental, social, and governance (ESG) challenges we face. Hence, Boston Trust Walden views public policy advocacy as an essential component of our ability to meet our clients’ investment objectives.

PROTECTING SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS

Boston Trust Walden is focused on protecting shareholders’ right to file resolutions. In 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made announcements that put at risk investors’ rights to exercise their fiduciary duty through responsible proxy voting and, when necessary, the shareholder resolution process.

In a June SEC-hosted stakeholder meeting to review the 2019 proxy season, we made the case that the current shareholder resolution process is effective and functioning well. We also wrote letters individually and as part of an investor coalition to members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. We helped organize an investor call with the CEO and other senior leadership from the Business Roundtable, a leading advocate for substantial changes in the existing rules for filing resolutions.

In September, the SEC announced a significant change to the shareholder resolution process whereby SEC staff may choose not to publish its rulings on corporations’ no-action requests seeking SEC approval to omit the resolutions from their proxies and, in fact, may not weigh in at all on certain requests.

In November, the SEC proposed additional changes, including reviewing the shareholder proposal and resubmission thresholds, among many others. Taken together, we believe these changes would undermine shareholder rights and have a chilling effect on what has proven to be an effective process for shareholders to provide useful input to company management and boards of directors. We have and will continue to communicate our concern to the SEC directly and in concert with industry peers and partner organizations.

OTHER 2019 EXAMPLES OF PUBLIC POLICY ACTIONS

  • Signed the Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change to underscore investor support for the goals of the Paris Agreement and advocate for all governments to take necessary action
  • Urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to uphold regulations for methane emissions produced by oil & gas companies
  • Encouraged companies to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims
  • Called on the Bangladesh government to maintain a strong independent body to oversee workplace safety in the Bangladeshi garment industry
  • Asked apparel and home goods brands and retailers to sign the Turkmen Cotton Pledge and support the YESS: Yarn Ethically and Sustainably Sourced Initiative

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