01 May 2023 Conservative Shareholder Activists Present Proposals Addressing Abortion, DEI and Fossil Fuels
Washington, D.C. – Shareholder activists with the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) will present proposals at eight shareholder meetings this week – including Eli Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb and Capital One.
As shareholder meeting season hits full stride, FEP will present several new types of proposals – including proposals that oppose pro-abortion stances, DEI-based discrimination and radical anti-fossil fuel agendas.
“There are a growing number of companies engaging in abortion-maximalist rhetoric that puts them on the pointy end of the spear for radical pro-abortion policies, embracing woke policies while losing focus on their core missions,” said FEP Director Scott Shepard.
“Eli Lilly, while criticizing state officials for an Indiana law that restricts abortion in cases other than rape, incest or where a woman’s life is in danger, made a point to recognize abortion as a ‘divisive and deeply personal issue with no clear consensus among the citizens of Indiana,’” added Shepard. “Taking positions on issues the Company admits are ‘divisive,’ ‘deeply personal’ and on which there is ‘no clear consensus’ can only serve to alienate consumers, employees and investors and impact the Company’s bottom line. The Company should instead focus on its pharmaceutical mission and its fiduciary duty to shareholders, a fiduciary duty that is likely to be violated by engaging in politically divisive rhetoric and actions.”
At Bristol Myers Squibb, UPS, and Kraft Heinz, FEP has proposals to address discriminatory DEI policies and the impacts of discriminatory policies on merit-based hiring and promotion.
“Under the guise of ESG, many companies — including Bristol Myers Squibb — have adopted DEI programs that seek to establish racial and social ‘equity,’ but in practice what ‘equity’ really means is the distribution of pay and authority on the basis of race, sex, orientation and ethnicity rather than by merit,” said FEP Associate Ethan Peck. “Where adopted, these practices create massive reputational, legal and financial risk. If the Company is committing illegal or unconscionable discrimination against employees deemed ‘non-diverse,’ then the Company will suffer in myriad ways — all of them both unforgivable and avoidable.”
FEP also has a viewpoint discrimination proposal on the ballot at Capital One that focuses on how the company oversees issues of viewpoint discrimination, particularly when it comes to religious discrimination.
“We are particularly concerned with recent evidence of religious and political discrimination by companies in the financial services industry — especially Capital One, where it seems free speech has been curtailed and customers have been debanked based on their political positions,” said Shepard. “When companies engage in this kind of discrimination, they hinder the ability of individuals, groups and businesses to access and equally participate in the marketplace, and instead skew it to their own ends.”
Finally, FEP has proposals on the ballots at PepsiCo, General Electric and Duke Energy, which all push back on the radical anti-fossil fuel agenda that pressures companies and their executives to make unrealistic (and often hypocritical) promises regarding net-zero emissions.
“Duke Energy has touted its commitment to achieving ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions by 2050. It’s not conclusive, however, that that’s even possible. Attempting to meet net-zero goals raises the price of fossil fuel energy while subsidizing other unreliable sources of energy. This has a ripple effect on the entire economy – when the price of energy increases, the price of everything else increases,” said Peck. “Additionally, decarbonization is meaningless if other countries don’t cooperate, and there is abundant evidence they won’t. The only thing it will do is make the U.S. reliant on other nations, which can have negative geopolitical effects.”
More information about these proposals, as well as other key shareholder meetings and proxy votes for this week, can be found in FEP’s weekly proxy votes newsletter.
The Free Enterprise Project’s new Proxy Navigator Annual Voter Guide can be downloaded here.
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