May 27th Vote: Chronic and Recurring Concerns About Hate Speech Promoting Racism, Discrimination and Violence Drive Resolution from Arjuna Capital
BOSTON – Facebook is the first of two online giants to face a shareholder resolution calling for a board candidate with human rights and/or civil rights expertise. The first of the closely watched votes takes place on Wednesday (May 27th) during the audio-only annual meeting of Facebook. The same resolution will be voted on at Alphabet (the parent of Google) on June 3rd.
Sponsored by Arjuna Capital and co-filed by As You Sow and JLens Investor Network, the shareholder resolution asks that Facebook’s Boards of Directors nominate for the next Board election at least one candidate who has “a high level of human and/or civil rights expertise and experience and is widely recognized as such.”
Concerned shareholders not only object to the unconscionable hate speech posted on Facebook promoting racism, discrimination and violence, but also the risk it poses to long-term shareholder wealth due to the increased likelihood of legal, regulatory, advertiser and consumer backlashes.
Natasha Lamb, managing partner and portfolio manager, Arjuna Capital, said: “This is an uphill battle given Facebook’s management controls more than half the votes, but it’s one worth fighting. Despite the best efforts of investors who have been ringing the alarm bells on content governance and hate speech for the last four years, Facebook and other social media platforms continue to propagate content that threatens civil and human rights. It’s clear that a Band-Aid approach is not working and addressing this issue requires board-level change.”
As the resolution states: “Shareholders believe Facebook requires expert, board-level oversight of civil and human rights issues to assess risk and develop strategy to avoid causing or contributing to widespread violations of human or civil rights, such as supporting genocide, hate campaigns, or violence.”
“Shareholders are concerned Facebook’s content governance has proven ad hoc, ineffectual, and poses risk to shareholder value. Civil rights advocates have criticized Facebook for failing to address hate speech that targets groups based on race and gender …”
“In October 2019, over 40 organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Color of Change, urged Mark Zuckerberg to consider the ‘protection of civil rights as a fundamental obligation as serious as any other goal of the company.’ Recommendations include diversifying the Board of Directors to include civil rights expertise: ‘We write today because our trust in the company is sorely broken. Despite years of dialogue and a partially complete civil rights audit, Facebook continues to act with reckless disregard for civil rights… Thus, despite grand promises on many fronts, we are left with no guarantee that Facebook can prevent any new product or policy from threatening civil and human rights.’”
“As fiduciaries, our Board is responsible for stewardship of business performance and long-term strategic planning, in light of risk factors like widespread violations of human and civil rights.”
ABOUT ARJUNA CAPITAL
Arjuna Capital is a sustainable and impact investment firm that works with high-net-worth individuals, families, and institutions to invest with a lens toward Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risk and opportunity. Natasha Lamb was named to the “Bloomberg 50” list of influencers who defined global business in 2017. For more information, visit www.arjuna-capital.com.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Alex Frank, (703) 276-3264 or [email protected].