For-profit

NorthStar Asset Management

Location:

Boston, MA

Formation:

1990

Type:

Investment organization

NorthStar Asset Management is a Boston-based, left-leaning investment organization which uses its shareholder status in large corporations to influence companies on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues and policies. Wealth manager and social activist Julie Goodridge founded NorthStar in 1990. [1]

NorthStar clients are exclusively wealthy individuals, families, and organizations. A minimum of $2.5 million is needed to qualify as a client. [2] It invests with companies which align with its values and that it can influence through shareholder proposals. [3]

The company’s workforce was entirely women as of 2011;[4] it has a single male employee as of November 2019. [5]

Activism

NorthStar Asset Management’s shareholder activism is broad and entirely left-leaning. It supports LGBT-interests advocacy and prisoners receiving a minimum wage when making products for businesses, and it argues that water scarcity is a human rights issue. [6][7][8]

The company’s 2018 “Social Change and Activism” report declared that racism and white supremacy were normalized by U.S. government officials, and that corporations were enabling this through campaign donations. NorthStar pressured several companies to prioritize diversity in board and other senior search and recruitment efforts in 2018, demanded that CEOs reduce their pay, and pressured companies to provide workplace protections to employees who identify as LGBT. It provided 91,000 total proxy votes on behalf of other shareholders. [9]

The company’s pressure led to Costco requiring its prison-based production to include a minimum wage and only voluntary work. [10] Costco also pledged to file reports on its prison employment process for two years. Microsoft adopted a NorthStar shareholder proposal in 2018 related to prison labor policies. [11]

In 2012, NorthStar pressured Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to change its corporate donation policies. According to NorthStar, Google’s donations policy was not in line with the company’s stated values. [12]

NorthStar issued a report in 2013 which stated corporate divestment in conventional fossil fuels would cost shareholders little to nothing, contrary to a study which claimed costs would be significant. [13] As of 2018, such fuels supplied approximately 80 percent of the U.S. energy grid. [14]

Investment Strategy

NorthStar specifically invests in companies which have significant agreement with its left-leaning principles and which it believes it can influence through shareholder engagement and the introduction of shareholder proposals.

Its day-to-day investing strategy depends upon client goals. It primarily invests in publicly-traded securities but also engages in venture capitalist and other investment opportunities. [15]

NorthStar also assists clients with financial planning, multi-generational transfers of wealth, and major financial decisions such as those related to property and inheritance. [16]

Leadership

Julie Goodridge founded NorthStar Asset Management in 1990 after seven years in the investment industry. [17] She is the company’s CEO as of 2019 and is also known for filing a lawsuit which led to Massachusetts permitting state recognition of same-sex marriages. After winning the lawsuit, Goodridge married her partner, Hillary Goodridge (nee Hillary Ann Smith); they divorced after five years. [18] Goodridge is former chairwoman of the New World Foundation, is on the board of the racial justice group Hyams Foundation, and she was also named as one of the top 25 women in finance in 2014 by American Banker. [19]

Mary Schwartzer is NorthStar’s director of shareholder activism and engagement, leading the company’s activist agenda. [20]

Cynthia Harmon is NorthStar’s Chief Operating Officer. She joined the company in 2018. [21] Chief Diversity Officer Christine Jantz likewise joined the firm in 2018. [22]

Ivy Jack leads equity research for NorthStar. She assesses the company’s investment portfolio according to its left-leaning values. [23]

References

  1. NorthStar Asset Management, Julie Goodridge, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/team/julie-goodridge/ ^
  2. NorthStar Asset Management, What we do, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/what-we-do/#becoming-a-client ^
  3. NorthStar Asset Management, Creating change, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/creating-change/ ^
  4. Luke Visconti, “Why Julie Goodridge might be the scariest person in investment banking,” December 21, 2011. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://www.diversityinc.com/why-julie-goodridge-might-be-the-scariest-person-in-investment-banking/ ^
  5. NorthStar Asset, About, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/about/ ^
  6. Idealist, NorthStar Asset Management, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://www.idealist.org/en/social-enterprise/9ef78e5098b24a4caa9319a522c74b00-northstar-asset-management-boston ^
  7. NorthStar Asset Management, Creating Change, December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/creating-change/ ^
  8. “Shareholder activists challenge PepsiCo on human right to water,” May 1, 2008. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/shareholder-activists-challenge-pepsico-on-human-right-to-water/ ^
  9. NorthStar Asset Management, “2018 Social change and activism annual report,” April 2019. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/NorthStar-2018-Social-Change-and-Activism-Annual-Report.pdf ^
  10. Mari Schwartzer, “Costco commits to continued reporting on prison labor,” October 24, 2019. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/costco-commits-to-continued-reporting-on-prison-labor/ ^
  11. “Shareholder engagement brings Microsoft into leadership position on prison labor,” October 9, 2018. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://www.jsafinancial.com/microsoft-prison-labor ^
  12. U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, “Shareholder rebuttal to the Google opposition statement regarding say on political contributions proposal,” June 5, 2012. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/869304/000121465912002549/j64120px14a6g.htm ^
  13. NorthStar Asset Management, “The cost of fossil fuel divestment has been greatly exaggerated,” August 2017. Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/FINAL_Revised_NorthStar-Cost-of-Divestment.pdf ^
  14. Just Facts, Energy, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://www.justfacts.com/energy.asp#supsec ^
  15. NorthStar Asset Management, What We Do, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/what-we-do/ ^
  16. NorthStar Asset Management, What We Do, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/what-we-do/ ^
  17. NorthStar Asset Management, Julie Goodridge, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/team/julie-goodridge/ ^
  18. Emanuel, Gabrielle. “How Making History Unmade A Family.” NPR. NPR, May 16, 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/05/16/723647834/how-making-history-unmade-a-family. ^
  19. NorthStar Asset Management, Julie Goodridge, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/team/julie-goodridge/ ^
  20. NorthStar Asset Management, Mari Schwartzer, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/team/mari-schwartzer/ ^
  21. NorthStar Asset Management, Cynthia Harmon, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/team/cynthia-harmon/ ^
  22. NorthStar Asset Management, Christine Jantz, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/team/christine-jantz/ ^
  23. NorthStar Asset Management, Ivy Jack, Accessed December 9, 2019. https://northstarasset.com/team/ivy-jack/ ^
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NorthStar Asset Management


Boston, MA