For-profit

Newground Social Investment

Location:

Seattle, WA

Formation:

1994

CEO:

Bruce Herbert

Newground Social Investment is a social purpose corporation dedicated to left-of-center social impact and “environmental, social, and corporate governance” (ESG) investing. Newground acts primarily through shareholder resolutions, encouraging corporations to adopt left-of-center policies, specifically on climate and corporate governance.

History

Bruce Herbert, the chief executive officer of Newground, founded the organization in 1994 and has focused exclusively on socially responsible investing and environmental and social governance since 1986. [1] Newground brands itself as the first social purpose corporation, managing investments for clients seeking to promote left-of-center policies. [2]

Newground works on behalf of individuals, institutions, and non-profit clients, providing socially responsible money management aligned with left-of-center values, community investment initiatives, and shareholder advocacy services. [3]

Activity

Newground uses shareholder resolutions to influence companies to adopt left-of-center policies. Newground also frequently partners with other left-of-center organizations and coalitions in the ESG activist movement to increase its influence, including the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, and the Washington Fair Trade Coalition. [4] [5] Newground has focused primarily on climate issues and corporate transparency.

In 2008, the Center for Political Accountability in conjunction with Newground won several major victories in the reporting of political spending, convincing Texas Instruments, Washington Mutual, Xerox, Capital One, and American Express to disclose payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt groups for political purposes. [6] The measure was aimed to make the disclosure of advocacy spending through tax-exempt organizations a standard for corporate transparency. [7]

Climate Policy

Newground has consistently pushed corporations to adopt left-of-center climate change policies. In 2009, Newground encouraged Nike to leave the United States Chamber of Commerce over the Chamber’s opposition to climate change legislation, a proposal which Nike rejected. [8] In March of that same year , Newground led a stakeholder proposal along with the Bard College Endowment and the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund which would require McDonald’s to publish a report on cutting pesticide use in its supply change, specifically in potato crops. [9] The push cited concerns over consumer health and the environment. [10] Newground and its associates withdrew the shareholder proposal after McDonald’s agreed to survey potato suppliers in the United States to create a list of best pesticide practices which it would then distribute to global suppliers and publish in its annual corporate social responsibility report. [11]

In 2016, Newground, in conjunction with ESG group As You Sow, filed a shareholder proposal with Freeport-McMoRan to demand that the company report steps it has taken to reduce the risks of urban oil extractions in Southern California, citing public opposition and health concerns surrounding fracking. [12] The proposal failed, gathering only 18% of shares who voted in favor of the resolution. [13]

Amazon Resolutions

As of 2019, Newground has extensively targeted Amazon, joining in on an initiative led by the ICCR to launch 10 shareholder resolutions. [14] The proposals called on Amazon to report on a wide range of issues, including its contribution to climate change through greenhouse gas reduction plans, efforts to address hate speech, and the impact of Amazon operations on human rights. [15] The resolutions also requested that Amazon link executive pay to Amazon’s performance in diversity and sustainability. [16] Amazon challenged eight of the proposals in mediations with the Securities and Exchange Commission. [17] Early in 2019, Amazon announced a goal of “net zero” carbon emissions from half of all shipments by 2030. [18]

The shareholder meeting in May 2019 was disrupted by fifty people standing in the room during an Amazon employee’s presentation in support of her request for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to come onto the stage to listen to her presentation. [19] All twelve of the resolutions presented at the meeting failed to pass shareholder votes. [20]

People

Bruce Herbert is the governor and primary agent of Newground Social Investment. He has served for seven years as a board member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). [21] [22] Herbert was also the co-founder and first director of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment. [23] Herbert has been extensively involved in the left-of-center movement outside of his capacity as a financial advisor, volunteering with the ICCR, the Social Justice Fund Northwest, and the Sierra Club. [24]

References

  1. “About Us.” Newground –Social Investment, SPC. Accessed November 26, 2019. http://www.newground.net/aboutus.asp. ^
  2. “Connecting Money to What Matters.” Newground Social Investment, SPC. Accessed November 26, 2019. http://www.newground.net/. ^
  3. “Values.” Newground –Social Investment, SPC. Accessed November 26, 2019. http://www.newground.net/values.asp. ^
  4. “Members.” Investor Alliance for Human Rights. Accessed November 26, 2019. https://investorsforhumanrights.org/members. ^
  5. “Home.” Washington Fair Trade Coalition. Accessed November 26, 2019. https://www.washingtonfairtrade.org/. ^
  6. “Five New Companies Agree to Political Disclosure, Including Trade Association and c4 Payments.” Center for Political Accountability. February 28, 2008. https://nmcdn.io/e186d21f8c7946a19faed23c3da2f0da/5006ff10fe6f450fa2f1f01321ac6b5a/files/news/press/center-for-political-accountability-urges-companies-to-heed-shareholder-demands-to-disclose-political-contributions/Five_New_Companies_Agree_to_Political_Disclosure_Including_Trade_Associations_and_c4_Payments.pdf ^
  7. “Five New Companies Agree to Political Disclosure, Including Trade Association and c4 Payments.” Center for Political Accountability. February 28, 2008. https://nmcdn.io/e186d21f8c7946a19faed23c3da2f0da/5006ff10fe6f450fa2f1f01321ac6b5a/files/news/press/center-for-political-accountability-urges-companies-to-heed-shareholder-demands-to-disclose-political-contributions/Five_New_Companies_Agree_to_Political_Disclosure_Including_Trade_Associations_and_c4_Payments.pdf ^
  8. “Shareholders Urge Nike to Leave U.S. Chamber Over Anti-Climate Bill Efforts.” GreenBiz. GreenBiz Group Inc., September 29, 2009. https://www.greenbiz.com/news/2009/09/29/shareholders-urge-nike-leave-us-chamber-over-anti-climate-bill-efforts. ^
  9. Baertlein, Lisa. “McDonald’s to Take Steps to Cut Potato Pesticides.” Reuters. ThomsonReuters, March 31, 2009. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mcdonalds-pesticides/mcdonalds-to-take-steps-to-cut-potato-pesticides-idUSTRE52U6AN20090331. ^
  10. Baertlein, Lisa. “McDonald’s to Take Steps to Cut Potato Pesticides.” Reuters. ThomsonReuters, March 31, 2009. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mcdonalds-pesticides/mcdonalds-to-take-steps-to-cut-potato-pesticides-idUSTRE52U6AN20090331. ^
  11. Baertlein, Lisa. “McDonald’s to Take Steps to Cut Potato Pesticides.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, March 31, 2009. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mcdonalds-pesticides/mcdonalds-to-take-steps-to-cut-potato-pesticides-idUSTRE52U6AN20090331. ^
  12. “Shareholders Urge Freeport-McMoran to Reduce Impacts of Urban Fracking.” PR Newswire, June 29, 2018. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/shareholders-urge-freeport-mcmoran-to-reduce-impacts-of-urban-fracking-300281937.html. ^
  13. “Shareholders Urge Freeport-McMoran to Reduce Impacts of Urban Fracking.” PR Newswire, June 29, 2018. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/shareholders-urge-freeport-mcmoran-to-reduce-impacts-of-urban-fracking-300281937.html. ^
  14. Romano, Benjamin. “Activist Shareholders Push Amazon on Everything from Facial

    Recognition to Climate Change.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company, March 7, 2019. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/activist-shareholders-push-amazon-on-everything-from-facial-recognition-to-climate-change/. ^

  15. Romano, Benjamin. “Activist Shareholders Push Amazon on Everything from FacialRecognition to Climate Change.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company,  March 7, 2019. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/activist-shareholders-push-amazon-on-everything-from-facial-recognition-to-climate-change/. ^
  16. Romano, Benjamin. “Activist Shareholders Push Amazon on Everything from Facial Recognition to Climate Change.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company, March 7, 2019. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/activist-shareholders-push-amazon-on-everything-from-facial-recognition-to-climate-change/. ^
  17. Romano, Benjamin. “Activist Shareholders Push Amazon on Everything from Facial Recognition to Climate Change.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company, March 7, 2019. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/activist-shareholders-push-amazon-on-everything-from-facial-recognition-to-climate-change/. ^
  18. Romano, Benjamin. “Activist Shareholders Push Amazon on Everything from Facial Recognition to Climate Change.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company, March 7, 2019. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/activist-shareholders-push-amazon-on-everything-from-facial-recognition-to-climate-change/. ^
  19. Zaveri, Paayal, and Eugene Kim. “Amazon’s Shareholder Meeting Turns Testy as Investors Demand Action on Climate Crisis and Diversity.” CNBC. CNBC, May 22, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/22/amazon-2019-shareholder-meeting-turns-testy.html. ^
  20. Zaveri, Paayal, and Eugene Kim. “Amazon’s Shareholder Meeting Turns Testy as Investors Demand Action on Climate Crisis and Diversity.” CNBC. CNBC, May 22, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/22/amazon-2019-shareholder-meeting-turns-testy.html. ^
  21. “Bruce T. Herbert, AIF.” Newground –Social Investment, SPC. Accessed November 26,2020. http://www.newground.net/bruce.asp. ^
  22. “Bruce T. Herbert, AIF.” Newground –Social Investment, SPC. Accessed November 26,2020. http://www.newground.net/bruce.asp. ^
  23. “Bruce T. Herbert, AIF.” Newground –Social Investment, SPC. Accessed November 26,2020. http://www.newground.net/bruce.asp. ^
  24. “Bruce T. Herbert, AIF.” Newground –Social Investment, SPC. Accessed November 26,2020. http://www.newground.net/bruce.asp. ^
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Newground Social Investment


Seattle, WA