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Nike shareholders voted down a proposal to investigate wage theft and other labour rights issues in Nike’s supply chain at the Nike AGM. There has been an increase in shareholder activism in the past year, but the success rate of these proposals is mixed.

  • Shareholders voted down a proposal at Nike’s Annual General Meeting on 12 September that would have required the Nike board to issue a report that
    • Assessed existing RBC policies and implementation mechanisms, such as codes of conduct, guidance and supply chain contracts
    • Set a methodology and metrics to track and measure performance on forced labour and wage theft risks
    • Assessed consistency with the OECD Guidelines, UN Guiding Principles, and Sustainable Development Goals
    • Considered the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Contract Clauses on human rights in the supply chain
    • Disclosed whether the above assessments yielded any changes to the company policies, decision making, and implementation mechanisms.
  • The shareholder proposal was initially filed by shareholder activist group Tulipshare on 31 March 2023.
  • On 7 September a group of investors also published a joint letter to Nike’s CEO over claims of nonpayment of workers at factories run by a Nike supplier in Cambodia and Thailand. The letter cites a Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) report from 14 June, which claimed that companies owned by supplier Ramatex Group owe USD 2.2 million to more than 4,500 garment workers due to incomplete payments in 2020. The letter is open for investors to sign until 25 October, and currently has nine signatories.
  • There has been an increase in shareholder activism on labour rights at large US companies in the past year and the success rate is mixed.   In January, Apple announced plans to conduct an audit on its efforts to comply with its Human Rights Policy as it relates to freedom of association and collective bargaining following the submission of a shareholder proposal. In March,  shareholders voted in favour of a  shareholder motion at Starbucks AGM calling for the company to commission and publish an independent, third-party assessment on its adherence to commitments on freedom of association and collective bargaining rights.Conversely, in May 2023, 18 shareholder proposals focused on ESG-related issues were rejected by investors at Amazon’s AGM. The above vote against RBC reforms amongst Nike shareholders shows that there is not yet a strong trend in the US for or against shareholder proposals.
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