The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Stefanie Spear,, 216-387-1609

Two Historic Majority Shareholder Votes Move the Needle on Human Capital Management Disclosures

This week, As You Sow received historically high majority votes on shareholder resolutions filed with


This week, As You Sow received historically high majority votes on shareholder resolutions filed with Fastenal (61 percent) and Genuine Parts (79 percent). Both resolutions asked the companies' board of directors to issue a report to shareholders describing the policies, performance, and improvement targets related to material human capital risks and opportunities.

"The overwhelming support for these resolutions asking companies to publicly disclose material information as defined by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), is an important piece of the puzzle leading to full transparency," said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow.

Workforce diversity and inclusion, reflecting possible discrimination based upon gender, race, and ethnicity is a significant policy issue. Underrepresentation of women and minorities in management structures can result in allegations of discriminatory labor practices, including those related to promotions and wages. The resulting lawsuits can eat into the thin margins of these industries, as well as cause reputational damage for the responsible companies.

For example, based on an analysis of Glassdoor reviews, Fastenal ranks 478 out of 496 major corporations on the diversity dimension. In the Supply Chain and Logistics Industry Grouping, Fastenal ranks 17 out of 18. Even more concerning from a governance standpoint is Fastenal's ranking on the Integrity dimension, explained as, "Employees consistently act in an honest and ethical manner. Do the right thing; Be ethical; Play by the rules." Here, Fastenal ranks 445 out of 527.

The Genuine Parts Proposal additionally asked for disclosure about the company's labor practices, such as average hourly wage and percentage of in-store employees earning minimum wage, voluntary, and involuntary turnover rate for in-store employees, and total amount of monetary losses as a result of legal proceedings associated with labor law violations.

These metrics are important because the retail sector's low-average wages may increase labor-related risks. Companies can face decreases in market share and revenue from negative consumer sentiment in the event of public disagreement between companies and workers.

"SASB enables investors to compare companies 'apples to apples' and is additive to the Global Reporting Initiative and more detailed sustainability reporting," Behar continued. "Taken together, this information begins to paint a complete picture of a company's ESG progress and aspirations. These tools are critical for investors to overweight leading companies, with superior management, that define the new economic paradigm based on justice and sustainability."

Last January, BlackRock asked its portfolio holdings to commit to financially material reporting that conforms to SASB standards. BlackRock said it would go as far as supporting shareholder resolutions and voting against directors of companies that were resistant. BlackRock owns more than 5 percent and is the second-largest shareholder of Fastenal and Genuine Parts. Although the votes haven't been disclosed, it's likely that BlackRock supported these resolutions. Even more interesting, did Vanguard, both companies' largest shareholder, also support it?

As You Sow is the nation's non-profit leader in shareholder advocacy. Founded in 1992, we harness shareholder power to create lasting change that benefits people, planet, and profit. Our mission is to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies.