Leading proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis has endorsed a human rights shareholder proposal at Thomson Reuters (TSX, NSE: TRI) in light of the company's work for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The proposal was put forward by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) and is up for consideration at Thomson Reuters's 2021 annual general meeting on June 9, 2021.
Thomson Reuters has made its products such as CLEAR available to ICE, which has used Thomson Reuters software to track and arrest immigrants on a massive scale. The shareholder proposal asks the board to produce a human rights risk report identifying potential risks as the company transitions to a technology and AI business. Thomson Reuters's lags behind its technology peers including Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, RELX (owner of Thomson LexisNexis) and salesforce.com who have adopted approaches to human rights.
According to Glass Lewis's analysis:
Particularly in light of the Company's Change Program, we believe that adoption of this proposal could provide some insulation from reputational harm and would allow shareholders to better understand how the Company is monitoring and managing potentially significant risks.
Last year, a similar resolution received nearly 30% vote in support by independent shareholders.
"This critical endorsement makes one thing clear: Thomson Reuters must take its commitment to human rights more seriously as it transitions to a technology and AI business," said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "As a union we understand that standing up for human rights around the world is essential to our collective progress towards social justice, and we hope to see a strong vote on this proposal on June 9th."
"Thomson Reuters has a long history of supporting immigration enforcement in the United States, including funneling the data of tens of millions of Americans directly to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has used this data to terrorize and deport immigrants throughout the country," said Jacinta Gonzalez, senior campaign organizer for #NoTechforICE at Mijente. "They continue to provide ICE with technology for deportations and raids, which continue under the Biden administration. The company has a responsibility to investigate these practices for human rights abuses."
Historically a publishing business, Thomson Reuters announced its "Change Program" in 2021 to transition the company "from a content provider to a content-driven technology company." The company will increasingly rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning to grow revenues, and TRI sees its U.S. government business as a key driver for growth.
In its response to the shareholder proposal, Thomson Reuters says its contract with ICE has expired, however Thomson Reuters still has at least $4.5 million in active contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as other contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that involve electronic intelligence research tools and data analysis.
Thomson Reuters' annual general meeting takes place on June 9, 2021. The virtual meeting will be available at this link.
View the investor briefing here.
View the and the excerpt from management circular here on page 113 or B-1.
Emma Pullman | Capital Markets Advisor | B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) | [email protected]
The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in B.C. with over 80,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province. Learn more at www.bcgeu.ca
Under BCGEU's responsible investment strategy, the union has engaged with some of Canada's largest and most influential companies on issues including human rights, worker's rights, sexual misconduct, and executive compensation. The union's strategy has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on human rights due diligence, executive compensation, food waste and climate disclosure.
Do you like this post?