Social Responsibility Advisory Committee (SRAC)
University of Pennsylvania
General Charge of the SRAC
The Penn Social Responsibility Advisory Committee (Penn SRAC) shall advise the University Trustees and make recommendations to the Trustee Proxy Voting Subcommittee of the Executive Committee concerning decisions on Proxy Voting. A Resolution to Establish Procedures for Proxy Voting was passed by the Executive Committee on May 15, 2003. The work of the committee is guided by the Statement on Responsibility Concerning Endowment Securities adopted by the Board of Trustees.
Specific Duties of the SRAC
Penn SRAC shall be advisory to the Trustee Proxy Voting Subcommittee and the President, with the following functions:
- Consider proposals from the University community regarding specific proxy voting, first determining whether or not there is an allegation of substantial social or environmental injury;
- Make clear and concise recommendations to the Trustee Proxy Voting Subcommittee, together with factual findings and analysis, for its consideration on how to vote proxies;
- Respond to specific requests from the Trustee Proxy Voting Subcommittee or President.
Penn SRAC shall consist of twelve voting members including:
- Four faculty members nominated by the Faculty Senate;
- Four students (two graduates and two undergraduates) nominated by the Undergraduate Assembly (one student), the Nominations and Elections Committee (one student), GAPSA (two students);
- Two alumni representatives appointed by the President;
- Two staff members appointed by the President.
The chair of Penn SRAC will be selected by the President.
All terms will be for one year, with the possibility of reappointment.
Penn SRAC shall meet on call of the chair and no less than twice during the academic year. At the chair's discretion, the Committee may also conduct business via conference call.
Guiding Principles of the SRAC
As a general rule, when the University has adopted a position through word or deed, SRAC will use the established position as a guideline in formulating its recommendation. For example, SRAC will recommend the support of proxies seeking same sex partner benefits since it is the position of the University to provide such benefits.
When University policies do not provide guidance, the committee will be guided by the ethical and moral position of the Penn community, publicly disclosed positions of peer institutions, the arguments made by both the proponents and the company, the past actions of the company, and the financial and competitive implications of the proposal.
SRAC has developed the following categories to help evaluate reasonable and well constructed proxy votes on social issues. Guidelines for each category are the basis for SRAC's recommendations to the Trustees Subcommittee on Proxy Voting.
- Animal Testing
- Abstain on such proposals since the committee believes that animal testing is necessary to advance the frontiers of medicine and the University should not hold any company to a higher level of care than it provides for its own laboratory animals.
- Animal Welfare
- Abstain on proposals involving caged free eggs and methods of poultry slaughter.
- Banking Issue
- Support resolutions which call for establishing and making public an institution's policy on predatory lending. Abstain from resolutions requesting policies and practices regarding possible loans to undocumented immigrants.
- Board Diversity
- Support resolutions that ask companies to amend nominating committee charters so that women and minority candidates are routinely sought as part of every board search the company undertakes and that the company publish information on its efforts to seek a diverse board pool.
- Charitable Contributions
- Support resolutions requesting information on charitable contributions. Abstain on resolutions that either request specific justification for each donation, or require publication in a form other than website reporting.
- EEO-Sexual Orientation
- Equal opportunity of employment and educational access is strongly supported by the University of Pennsylvania community. Consistent with this, support shareholder resolutions that support inclusion of sexual orientation in the company's EEO policies and oppose shareholder resolutions that ask companies to drop sexual orientation from their EEO policies.
- Executive Pay and Social Issues
- Support the inclusion of social performance and environmental awareness as a criteria for determining executive compensation provided it is one of a number of components which are being considered for this purpose and doesn't restrict a company from looking at all aspects as a whole. Abstain from resolutions based primarily on reviewing and reporting comparisons of compensation for executive and lowest paid employees.
- Global Labor Standards
- Support shareholder resolutions that ask companies to review, report, and/or adopt of a company's internal labor standards, the establishment of global labor standards or the adoption of codes of conduct relating to human rights.
- Support resolutions asking companies to ensure their products are made in compliance with standards of the International Labor Organization and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including but not limited to ensuring the right to form labor unions, the eradication of forced labor and encouraging companies to submit to independent monitoring of the workplace.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Support shareholder resolutions seeking company disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, analyses of the impact of climate change on a company’s business activities, strategies designed to reduce a company’s harmful impact on the global climate, and company support of governmental policies to mitigate climate change and its harmful effects. (2017)
- Health Care
- Abstain on resolutions that ask for the adoption of the Institute of Medicine's principles for health care reform. Consider resolutions that deal with provision of health care in a particular company on an individual basis.
- Human Rights
- Support resolutions requesting companies to incorporate human rights criteria into their global operations. Support resolutions requesting corporate reports or a response from management on a company's impact of operating in regions that do not uphold the Declaration of Human Rights or areas that raise concern to indigenous populations. Abstain on resolutions that encourage divestment or ceasing to operate in a particular region if the company's operations do not contribute directly to violations of the Declaration of Human Rights (e.g., telecommunication or pharmaceutical companies in Sudan). Abstain on resolutions requesting the company join specific associations or partnerships that address human rights, such as the United Nations Global Compact, Fair Labor Association or working with Amnesty International.
- Internet Censorship and Repression
- Support resolutions that request corporate reports or a response from management on the company's impact of operating in regions that do not uphold the Declaration of Human Rights including issues of Freedom of Speech on the Internet and the protection of internet users. Abstain on resolutions that might have the effect of causing the company to cease operations in a country when it is seems likely that the people of that country would be worse off if the company left.
- MacBride Principles
- Consistent with the University's support of non-discrimination, support resolutions that ask for implementation and adherence to the MacBride Principles.
- Political Spending
- Support resolutions that ask companies to report on direct or indirect campaign spending. Support resolutions that ask companies to report on direct or indirect lobbying activities. Abstain on resolutions that ask for restrictions on political spending. Abstain on resolutions that ask companies to adopt codified board oversight policies on political spending, unless the conduct of a company in a specific instance merits such a resolution. (2015)
- Product Safety
- Support resolutions that ask for a report on the company's policies on product safety and the options for new initiatives or actions management is taking to respond to this issue, beyond those initiatives or actions already required by law. Abstain on resolutions that focus on particular product lines or specific suppliers.
- Resource Extraction
- Support resolutions that ask for monitoring and disclosure of the environmental impacts of the company's operations, including resolutions that ask for the collection and disclosure of quantitative emissions data. Support resolutions that ask companies to adopt comprehensive sustainability strategies, including performance indicators, and to publish quantitative assessments of the strategies' effectiveness. Abstain on resolutions that ask companies to set quantitative emissions reduction targets. (2015)
- Sustainability Reporting
- The University is committed to a comprehensive sustainable plan. Consistent with this support resolutions asking for sustainability reports at reasonable cost, and omitting proprietary information. Abstain if the company already publishes an annual sustainability report that addresses the major issues or if the proposal incurs unreasonable costs.
Upon written request, the University will release the social issues related to proxy voting and whether these issues were supported or rejected. The University will not release the holdings related to these votes.
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