CSJP Shareholder Proposal at PPG Garners 32% Investor Support
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace leveraged their investments in PPG Industries, Inc., a major U.S. paints and coatings manufacturer, to call for greater independent board oversight of human rights risks. With support from Investor Advocates for Social Justice (IASJ), the Congregation filed a shareholder proposal requesting PPG adopt an Independent Board Chair policy. The Congregation has previously engaged in shareholder dialogues with PPG through participation in IASJ’s Shifting Gears Initiative, a collaborative shareholder advocacy campaign on human rights risks in the automotive industry. CSJP filed this shareholder proposal due to investors’ concerns about insufficient board-level oversight of the company’s human rights impacts in its own operations and extended global supply chains for raw materials. Less concentration of power, increased independence, and human rights expertise at the board would help ensure that PPG has effective oversight and risk management of its most salient human rights risks.
Examples of PPG’s human rights impacts include:
- Severe risks of child labor in PPG’s mica supply chain which have grown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Additional risks of child labor, forced labor, and hazardous working conditions in PPG’s extended supply chains for raw materials;
- Worker health and safety risks associated with exposure to harmful chemicals;
- Labor rights risks raised in a consumer boycott of PPG’s web-based contracting service, and
- Community impacts of environmental pollution incidents
On April 15, 2021, Sister Susan Francois, CSJP represented the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace at PPG’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of shareholders. Sr. Susan delivered a speech to move the shareholder proposal, making the case to the company and investors that adopting best practices for corporate governance would strengthen the company’s approach to addressing its human rights risks. The proposal was ultimately supported by 32% of investors, which is a significant level of support for a first-time proposal. This support sends a strong message to the company about investor expectations for improved corporate governance and human rights practices.
Following the shareholder meeting, Sr. Susan shared about how this engagement and participation in the shareholder meeting presented an opportunity for the Sisters to continue their legacy of working for justice with corporations, as inspired by the work of Sister Ita Duffy. Sister Duffy was a former leader in CSJP’s responsible investing ministry in the 1970’s and 80’s and spoke boldly in support of the common good.
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace is also active in additional shareholder advocacy engagements on human rights, climate justice, and racial equity through participation in IASJ. To learn more about this ongoing work, you can reach out to Gina Falada at firstname.lastname@example.org.