59.68% Independent Support for Human Rights Proposal at Tyson
Update: The Human Rights Due Diligence proposal received 14.58% support overall at the Tyson AGM this year. Excluding the influence of the Tyson Limited Partnership, 59.68% of independent shareholders voted in support of the proposal, representing a majority.
Tyson Shareholders Urged to Vote FOR Human Rights Due Diligence Proposal
February 3, 2020
Investor Advocates for Social Justice (IASJ) has supported shareholder engagement with Tyson Foods for many years, focused on human rights and water stewardship. This proxy season, the American Baptist Home Mission Society and 12 co-filers filed a Human Rights Due Diligence shareholder proposal asking the company to identify and manage its greatest human rights risks. This proposal will go to a vote on February 6, 2020 at Tyson’s annual shareholder meeting. IASJ encourages all Tyson shareholders to vote for this proposal, which received 22.55% support from independent shareholders in 2019 (5.5% overall). This year’s proposal is supported by proxy advisors ISS and Glass Lewis.
Our proxy memo describes in detail how Tyson’s existing policies and practices are insufficient to address the severe human rights risks in Tyson’s operations and value chain. The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) identifies many of these impacts as material for Meat, Poultry, and Dairy companies, including water and waste management, ecological impacts, product quality and safety, employee health and safety, and environmental & social impacts of animal supply chain and they present legal, financial, and reputational risks. A summary of the proposal ask and our core arguments can be found below, followed by details about the annual meeting and additional resources about Tyson’s human rights impacts.
Summary of the Proposal
This proposal asks for a report on Tyson’s human rights due diligence process to assess, identify, prevent, mitigate, and remedy actual and potential human rights impacts in company-owned operations and value chain. The requested report would also include information about stakeholder consultation and how Tyson tracks the effectiveness of its efforts.
Support for this proposal is warranted and in the best interest of shareholders because:
- Failure to conduct effective human rights due diligence may have negative financial impacts on Tyson, such as fines, lawsuits, diminished worker attraction or retention, and loss of business opportunities. Yet Tyson’s disclosures on human rights provide little assurance to shareholders that its existing commitments are being effectively implemented to assess, identify, prevent, mitigate, and remedy adverse human rights impacts.
- There are human rights risks associated with Tyson’s business activities, such as worker health and safety, discrimination, right to water, health (food safety), and forced labor.
- Tyson’s human rights-related performance and disclosures lag behind peers.
About the Annual General Meeting
The meeting will be held at the Tyson Foods headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 10:00 a.m., Central time. Additional meeting details are available in the proxy statement. Senior Program Associate Gina Falada will be attending the AGM with Martha Salomaa, representative of the Sipsey Heritage Commission in Alabama, to move the shareholder proposal on behalf of the proponents. If you wish to tune into the meeting, please visit the Tyson website to register for the webcast.
- Benchmarks scoring Tyson on human rights and water management criteria:
- Human Rights Watch Resources:
- Report on working conditions in poultry plants: “When We’re Dead and Buried, Our Bones Will Keep Hurting” Workers’ Rights Under Threat in US Meat and Poultry Plants, 2019
- Blog post from February 4, 2020: “Shareholders Can Help Protect Meatpacking Workers“