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Proxy season is upon us and presents an opportunity to see how the investment community thinks and feels about ESG. In the past three years, there has been a push to advance shareholder proposals on human rights standards for indigenous peoples. As reported by Responsible Investor, similar proposals are now in front of Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. The article describes the proposal at Citigroup as:

“A resolution calling on the bank to publish a report on how its policies and practices respect internationally recognised human rights standards for Indigenous peoples will go to the vote for the third time at Citi’s AGM on 30 April.

Previous iterations received strong investor backing, getting around 34 percent and 31.5 percent of the vote in 2022 and 2023, respectively.”

Citi is attempting to get ahead of the resolution and assuage shareholders with voluntary measures. The company issued an eight-page report outlining its due diligence processes and stated that seven transactions did not move forward in 2023 due to concerns for the rights of indigenous peoples. However, advocates of the proposal argue that these voluntary measures do not go far enough and – while the company may have declined certain transactions – there is no transparency as to how these transactions were assessed and why they were declined. The results of the proxy vote may indicate shareholder appetite for more human rights focused reporting requirements and a successful campaign by investors may give way to similar resolutions in the future.  

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile