As a Steering Committee member of the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, we led a global statement on corporate accountability for digital rights, setting out expectations for ICT companies’ responsibility to respect user privacy and free expression and endorsing the Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, which assesses the largest ICT companies. The statement, signed by 49 investors, signalled the start of collaborative engagement with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Vodafone.
NEI has teamed up with fellow Alphabet investors Hermes, Robeco and The Sustainability Group of Loring Wolcott & Coolidge to bring our concerns to the board of directors. We wrote a comprehensive letter outlining these concerns and requested to meet with the company. We asked other investors with similar concerns if they wanted to collaborate and received overwhelming support: over 80 institutional investors signed on to our letter, representing close to US$10 trillion of assets under management. Despite months of work, Alphabet’s response was dismissive and disappointing. We decided to escalate the engagement and filed a shareholder proposal asking the company to adopt human rights oversight at the board.