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The Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. We conduct impartial research and publish reports on organized efforts to influence corporate behavior on social and environmental issues.

Si2 closely follows shareholder resolutions proposed by investor activists, analyzing changing reform campaigns and identifying key points of contention in reports that help investors to make informed, independent decisions about their votes and views on these proposals. We also publish related reports for the public on selected topics.

We believe our robust, non-partisan analysis of corporate sustainability concerns informs investor, company and stakeholder dialogues, helping to identify better solutions. Working as an independent institute differentiates Si2 from other companies, activists and researchers in the field. We do not advocate for specific solutions but seek to build a body of agreed knowledge for smart policy-making.

News & Votes

Action at the SEC continues as companies challenge resolutions. Two developments in mid-January to note are:

Alliant Energy has challenged a resolution from the NYC pension funds on elections and lobbying. It argues at the SEC it can be excluded because it is not significantly related to the company's business (Rule 14a-8(i)(5)) and concerns ordinary business (i)(7). It invokes SEC Staff Legal Bulletin 14I, issued on Nov. 1, arguing that its political expenditures to political groups are insignificant compared to its total assets, net income and gross sales--and noting that its board met and agreed these expenditures do not raise public policy concerns significant to its business. Alliant notes its current oversight and reporting procedures for political activity, and says the proposal is concerned primarily with contributions to non-profit groups, which it says are particularly insignificant to it and have raised no concerns outside its ordinary business. It also contends investors are uninterested in the topic; the resolution earned 38.6 percent last year.

Cato Corp.: Cato has challenged a proposal asking for an LGBT rights policy, and argues it is moot (Rule 14a-8(i)(10)) and concerns ordinary business (i)(7). In 2017, the SEC agreed it was moot because company policy prohibits discrimination on the basis of "any legally-protected classification" and federal courts have upheld LGBT protections. The company policy does not explicitly protect LGBT employees, however. The resolution this year notes the company operates in 16 states where LGBT discrimination may occur under "religious freedom" laws. It also notes that the Justice Department in June 2017 argued that the Civil Rights Act does not cover sexual orientation, despite 2015 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission advice that it does.