Burnaby – One of the world's leading independent proxy advisory firms, Glass Lewis, has recommended that Thomson Reuters (NYSE, TSX: TRI) shareholders vote FOR a proposal filed by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU). The proposal calls on the Thomson Reuters board to produce a human rights report that addresses the impacts of contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Shareholders believe these contracts expose the company to significant legal and reputational risk, as well as the real likelihood of contributing to, or being directly linked to, violations of human rights, including children's rights, due process, equal protection, freedom from persecution and torture, and the rights of asylum seekers.
This endorsement is significant. Glass Lewis's global client base of 1,200+ institutions collectively manages more than $25 trillion in assets.
According to Glass Lewis's analysis of the proposal:
"[W]e do not believe that [Thomson Reuters] has provided sufficiently robust information concerning its human rights considerations, particularly given the controversial nature of its association with ICE. We believe that additional reporting on how the Company is mitigating adverse human rights impacts from its products, and how it ensures it remains in compliance with the UN Global Compact (of which it already is a signatory), would provide shareholders with assurance this is an area that is being thoroughly managed and overseen in a manner that is in the best interests of shareholders".
In response to the endorsement, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith released the following statement:
"The point of our shareholder proposal is simple: we are asking Thomson Reuters to address the troubling human rights issues related to how their software is being used and to make sure they are living up to their obligations as a participant in the United Nations Global Compact. The United Nations considers family separation and detention illegal under international law. We see these contracts a risk to investors, as well as one of the fundamental ethical issues of our time," said Smith.
"We deeply believe in the importance of this proposal and are encouraged that Glass Lewis has recommended shareholders support BCGEU's proposal. We hope to see a strong vote at the June 3 AGM."
BCGEU has also learned that other significant TRI investors have voted FOR the proposal, and the proposal also has also been endorsed by responsible investment funds including Trillium Asset Management ($3.2 billion AUM) and Azzad Asset Management ($812 million AUM), as well as human rights and legal expert Nina Gardner, Adjunct Professor of business and human rights law at John Hopkins SAIS.
Recent reports revealed by Mijente, a US based advocacy non profit, show how Thomson Reuters is not only passively offering data to government agencies like ICE as part of the companies multi-million dollar contracts with the rogue agency; they also play a direct role in reviewing and vetting target lists for which immigrants ICE should deport.
The proposal was submitted by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) as part of its capital stewardship program. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals to companies including Royal Bank of Canada, Brookfield Asset Management and Loblaw on topics like human rights, sexual misconduct, and executive compensation. The union's strategy has succeeded in securing strong commitments on human rights due diligence, vertical pay analysis, food waste and climate disclosure.
The Thomson Reuters shareholder meeting will take place virtually on June 3, 2020.
View the BCGEU shareholder proposal here: https://www.bcgeu.ca/bc_union_s_shareholder_proposal_questions_thomson_reuters_on_human_rights_record_connections_to_ice
View BCGEU's investor brief here: https://www.bcgeu.ca/bcgeu_releases_investor_brief_calling_on_thomson_reuters_tsx_nyse_tri_to_properly_assess_risks_of_working_with_ice
View Thomson Reuters's management circular and response to the BCGEU shareholder proposal here: https://ir.thomsonreuters.com/static-files/0482f011-d14a-4094-8029-74c7a7f3c4bd
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