May 17, 2010

Intel Shareholders Persuade Company to Include ESG Reporting as Fiduciary Duty

This is something many of us have been waiting for. The resolution was introduced by Harrington Investments, a socially responsible investment firm that specializes in shareholder activism on CSR issues.

As a result, Intel is now creating a Board Committee on Sustainability. While this resolution had been voted down by management the previous year, the company is now convinced that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting helps preserve the longer-term interests of the company. Thus, Intel directed its outside legal counsel to write a legal opinion specifically stating that pursuant to Delaware law, corporate responsibility and sustainability reporting based upon the committee's charter, was part of the fiduciary duty of company directors.

This legal opinion may help form a basis for the position that such reporting is a critical factor in corporate financial performance. Ultimately, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may decide to make ESG reporting mandatory, especially in the current government trend toward increasing corporate regulation and accountability. ESG reporting represents a growing realization that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not only the right thing to do ethically, but also provides a firm foundation for long-term stability as this chart from Pax World Investments indicates.