NYC funds withdraw Hewlett-Packard sustainability proposal after engagement

Pension fund meeting with HP’s sustainability chief

The five New York City Pension Funds have withdrawn a supply chain sustainability proposal at computer giant Hewlett-Packard following engagement with the company.

The funds, which have a combined value of $108.1bn (€80.7bn), had tabled a proposal for HP’s 2012 annual general meeting calling on the company to help its suppliers publish “annual, independently verifiable, sustainability reports”. The reports would include information on workplace safety, and human and worker rights, using internationally recognized standards, indicators and measurement protocols.

The New York City Comptroller’s office, which oversees the funds, withdrew the motion after meeting with Zoe McMahon, HP’s Director of Social & Environmental Sustainability and Compliance and David Ritenour, Associate General Counsel.

“On the basis of the company’s action and stated commitment, I hereby withdraw the funds’ proposal,” said Kenneth Sylvester, Assistant Comptroller for Pension Policy at the Comptroller’s Office in a letter to HP last month.
“We are pleased with the company’s commitment to encourage its suppliers to publish an annualsustainability report, including content and metrics based on internationally recognised reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative,” he wrote.

“We look forward to the company’s development, over the next few months, of a specific goal and related strategy for communication and implementation of the commitment, starting with a defined set of suppliers, and its publication of this information in Its 2011 Global Citizenship report.”

HP had sought permission from the SEC to omit the funds’ proposal from its 2012 proxy ballot, ahead of its next shareholder meeting which is likely to take place in March next year. It had argued that it had already substantially implemented the proposal, “particularly when the recent revisions the company has made to its guidelines are considered”.

The five New York funds are the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System, the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, the New York City Police Pension Fund and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System.