The global economy derives roughly $125 trillion of value from natural ecosystems annually. The health of ecosystems relies on biodiversity – a critical dependency and material risk for Costco's operations, where food accounts for 35% of its revenue.
In August 2022, Vancity Investment Management (VCIM) filed a shareholder proposal with Costco Wholesale Corporation that requests the company to map their supply chain and report on the risks associated with biodiversity loss.
VCIM’s investing process includes engaging in conversations with businesses to adopt best practices, while increasing socially responsible impact for people and planet. As a direct result of VCIM’s efforts, Costco is on-track to fulfill its commitment to conduct and complete a pilot supply chain impact assessment report on a material supply chain by the end of 2024.
As both an environmental and economic issue, biodiversity is a key engagement impact area for VCIM.
Kelly Hirsch, VCIM’s Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), is the first to admit, “it was a pretty ambitious ask.”
Through ongoing conversations with Costco’s leadership and sustainability teams, VCIM secured commitments that were requested in the shareholder proposal, including confirmation that the disclosure report will be in line with the Task Force for Nature Related Disclosures (TNFD) framework. Costco also shared that its sustainability team had identified the material supply chain and was working closely with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) on its biodiversity impact analysis.
The choices made by large businesses can impact the economy and influence people’s lives. Many influential and multi-national businesses are publicly traded, which means that investors have the power to advocate for change and influence key decisions within these companies.
“Many members choose to invest with us because of our commitment to shareholder engagement work,” says Kelly, “and pushing one of the largest companies in the world to take action is exactly what they want to see.”
By filing a shareholder proposal, VCIM provided Costco’s board of directors the request to assure investors that the company can manage potential impacts on their operations and the prompt to act before the next annual general meeting.
Kelly explains that VCIM’s approach to shareholder engagement isn’t from an adversarial perspective. “As investors, it’s a partnership focused on everyone’s best interest – their success is our success.”
Explore our shareholder engagement report for a comprehensive look at how VCIM uses the power of stakeholder engagement to encourage businesses to help build a clean and fair world:
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