In the first quarter of 2018, CBIS attended the Sanderson Farms annual shareholders’ meeting in Mississippi and spoke with CEO and Chairman Joe Sanderson, who agreed to meet with CBIS later in the year to discuss labor and safety concerns.
In the third quarter of 2017, CBIS filed a shareholder resolution on shareholders’ ability to nominate board members on the company’s own proxy ballot materials. We made clear to the board that our priority was nominating directors with worker rights and health and safety expertise critical to both industry success and addressing the risks we were raising. Before our proposal went to a vote, Sanderson Farms agreed to amend its bylaws to allow for proxy access. CBIS withdrew the resolution, and we continue to press the company on improving its workplace practices and treatment of vulnerable workers, including refugees.
Chicken is the most popular meat in America, and while profits in the poultry industry have risen rapidly, improvements in working conditions on processing lines have not kept pace with growth. Due to high turnover and challenging conditions, plants often employ economically vulnerable populations who are afraid to speak about conditions and risk their employment.
Sanderson Farms is the third largest poultry producer in the US and has the ability to implement changes that would improve the conditions and safety for poultry workers across the country. Our goal for the engagement is to encourage Sanderson Farms to improve working conditions on poultry processing lines to combat injury and illness and provide adequate breaks for employees, including:
- Reporting on worker safety figures, workforce make-up, worker turnover, and workforce satisfaction,
- Implementing employee cross-training to alleviate repetitive motion risks, and
- Hiring floating workers to allow for rest breaks for employees and breaks to sharpen tools.
CBIS has interviewed NGO, union, and occupational safety experts in the industry to develop strong background on key issues and potential solutions. We also attended an invite-only meeting of poultry workers froma cross the U.S. to hear directly of concerns across poultry processing plants.
Globally, nearly 21 million refugees have been forced from home due to war, conflict and persecution and require bank accounts to integrate into new communities. Refugees often lack standard documentation to open accounts, and without access to funds, they may go into debt, rely on handouts, or be forced into homelessness.
Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank and a global leader with a strong position in Europe, can use its size and influence to help the more than 1.5 million refugees in Germany in need of financial service. Our goal for the engagement is to encourage Deutsche Bank to work to ensure there are adequate resources in place to provide refugees with accessible, affordable, and useful financial products and services, including:
- Hire multilingual employees,
- Train staff on account opening requirements,
- Streamline the account opening process, and
- Create technology that allows beneficiaries with no banking relationship to more easily access funds.
In June 2017, Deutsche Bank responded to our inquiry and shared details about its work to connect and empower refugees displaced by war and conflict with financial products and services. The bank provides a basic account for EU residents and people without permanent residence, including homeless persons and asylum seekers. Many branches have multilingual staff, and additional services are offered to clients with a Turkish background. Changes are also underway with new digital technology that improve accessibility and provide electronic payment. In 2016, Deutsche Bank launched a Digital Factory, dedicated to developing digital banking products. We look forward to learning more about the ways Deutsche Bank is assessing the effectiveness of its efforts to better serve, protect, and empower refugees.
Over 800 million people worldwide are undernourished, while one-third of all food produced for human consumption (~1 B tons) is lost or wasted between the farm and table each year. Retail food chains such as Papa John’s are doing little to recognize or address the problem, yet cost savings are enormous to the company and a boon for communities once waste is identified, measured and cut.
Papa John’s International operates in all 50 states and 39 countries, but lacks basic sustainability reporting and does not acknowledge that food waste is a major problem within the company. Our goal is to encourage Papa John’s to develop processes to better measure, report and combat food waste and address global hunger, including:
- Implement and report on systems to identify the sources of and measure food waste,
- Improve operational practices to reduce waste, and
- Develop waste reduction programs, repurpose ingredients, and develop local relationships for food donation.
CBIS reached out to Papa John’s twice at the end of 2016, to discuss the issue and press the company for better reporting. We are drafting a letter now with the improvements we’d like to see in management practice and reporting for 2017, and have been partnering with key food waste advocates on strategy.
CBIS began its engagement with Gilead Sciences on the issue of access to health for the world’s poor in 2016. CBIS has already met with the access to Medicine Foundation to discuss ways Gilead and the pharmaceutical industry can help the world’s poorest people access the medicine they need. Pharmaceutical companies have an important role to play by responding with concrete, effective action to combat diseases that disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable. Expanding the supply of life-saving medications can help meet an urgent public health need in low-income countries. Gilead produces and has improved access to medications in developing countries for HIV, hepatitis, and disease caused by parasites. CBIS will work with Gilead to ensure the company is evaluating reduced pricing options to expand coverage for patients, coordinating and supporting education for medical and clinical workers, and expanding innovative patent agreements to hepatitis therapies.
In the first quarter of 2017, CBIS and other shareholders had a call in April to discuss Gilead’s new focus:
- Market expansion: To tackle the Hepatitis C crisis, Gilead will build new manufacturing plants in China where 10 million people are infected. Gilead hopes to replace outdated medications with poor cure rates.
- Pilot projects: Gilead donated drugs to the government of Georgia, the country with the world’s third highest prevalence of hepatitis C. The goal is a 90% reduction in prevalence by 2020.
- Global frameworks: The company committed to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring healthy lives and well-being worldwide by 2030, a positive step.