|Submission Date||May 31, 2016|
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PA-14: Sustainable Investment
Chief Sustainability Officer
Office of Sustainability
Total value of the investment pool:
Value of holdings in each of the following categories::
|Value of Holdings|
|Sustainable industries (e.g. renewable energy or sustainable forestry)||---|
|Businesses selected for exemplary sustainability performance (e.g. using criteria specified in a sustainable investment policy)||---|
|Sustainability investment funds (e.g. a renewable energy or impact investment fund)||---|
|Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) or the equivalent||---|
|Socially responsible mutual funds with positive screens (or the equivalent)||---|
|Green revolving loan funds that are funded from the endowment||---|
A brief description of the companies, funds, and/or institutions referenced above:
A complete accounting of specific amounts invested in the above categories has not been completed, although it is likely that investments that apply to these categories are made within the funds utilized by the endowment, as noted by the information below.
Does the institution have a publicly available sustainable investment policy?:
A copy of the sustainable investment policy:
The sustainable investment policy:
The policy on Social Responsibility Investment Considerations applies to the invested assets of the University of Wisconsin System’s Trust Funds, and to individuals interested in providing input regarding the corporate policies or practices of the companies and other entities in which the University of Wisconsin System invests.
The purpose of this statement is to communicate the Board of Regents’ policies and practices for considering the various aspects of the social responsibility of the companies, governments, or other entities in which it invests University of Wisconsin System Trusts Funds.
Shareholder proxies dealing with some aspect of “social responsibility” are generally to be voted (or directed to be voted) internally by the UW System Trust or Assistant Trust Officer(s) in accordance with various general guidelines approved by Board from time to time. The current guidelines group social responsibility related proxies into the following major categories:
• Disclosures overall
• Labor and human rights
• Health and safety
• Environmental practices and animal welfare
• Climate change
• Diversity and non-discrimination
• Political expenditures
• Cyber security
Does the institution use its sustainable investment policy to select and guide investment managers?:
A brief description of how the policy is applied, including recent examples:
To enhance the Board’s awareness of social concerns the Board of Regents, through the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee, directs the University of Wisconsin System Administration to conduct a proxy review to highlight proxy resolutions related to discrimination and substantial social injury. As further provided under RPD 31-13, the Committee will also determine its voting position for such shareholder resolutions.
The Regents also wish to solicit input from students, faculty, alumni and citizens on matters related to social concerns. To obtain this input, the Business, Finance, and Audit Committee of the Board of Regents may schedule a public forum at the request of parties interested in presenting such concerns to the Board of Regents. The purpose of this forum is to offer the broadest opportunity for System constituencies to present such information to the Board of Regents.
Cognizant of the University of Wisconsin System, state, and federal commitments to environmental protection, the Board of Regents Business, Finance, and Audit Committee, in discharging its responsibility for managing the University of Wisconsin System Trust Funds, does so with the expectation that the companies and other entities in which it invests will evidence a similar commitment in their respective activities. In the event that any persons or group of persons, after careful investigation and evaluation of facts in evidence, concludes that a company in which the University of Wisconsin System Trust Funds has investments appears not to be performing in accord with the Committee’s expectations and the appropriate governmental standards in this area, the Committee will afford those persons an opportunity to detail their evidence and concerns to the Committee. The Committee may afford the company or other entity involved an opportunity to respond to the concerns expressed, before deciding what course of action is appropriate.
2013: UW Trust Funds submitted voting instructions for 25 proposals (including “non-routine” corporate governance proposals), compared with 17 and 38 proposals for the past two years, respectively. Of the proxies submitted for voting by the Trust Funds, 11 came to votes, 12 were withdrawn, one was omitted, and one is pending. The primary submissions for the UW Trust Funds on social issues involved the environment and global warming (nine) and human rights (two). For corporate governance issues, the UW’s primary submissions involved political donations (eleven) and board diversity (two). The highest support vote on an individual social issue came at Halliburton. The resolution, asking the company to report on the company’s process for evaluating human rights risks in their direct operations and supply chains, received 40 percent support.
2014: Trust Funds staff requests approval to vote in the affirmative for the 34 shareholder proposals presented. The majority of these proposals can be viewed as falling under one of the 26 pre-approved issues. Furthermore, approval is requested to vote in the affirmative on additional proxies coming to vote in 2014 if the proposals can be viewed as falling under one of these approved issues.
Does the institution's sustainable investment policy include negative screens?:
A brief description of the negative screens and how they have been implemented:
Regent Policy 31-16 Sudan Divestment
The purpose of this policy is to prevent, to the extent possible, making or retaining investments that would provide support to the government of Sudan. The policy was introduced in 2006 due to the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing in Darfur sponsored by the Sudanese government and is intended to remain in place as long as such conditions persist.
The policy of the UW System Board of Regents is to join in concert with other institutional investors, states, municipalities, and the U.S. government in restricting and discouraging business activity that provides support to the current government of Sudan, due to acts of genocide or “ethnic cleansing” which have occurred in that country.
Approximate percentage of the endowment that the negative screens apply to:
Has the institution engaged in proxy voting, either by its CIR or other committee or through the use of guidelines, to promote sustainability during the previous three years?:
A copy of the proxy voting guidelines or proxy record:
A brief description of how managers are adhering to proxy voting guidelines:
Regent Policy Document 31-10 (formerly Regent Policy Document 92-4) on Proxy Voting
The purpose of this policy is to describe who is responsible for identifying, analyzing, and voting various types of shareholder proxies, proposals put to shareholder vote which may impact the future and fortunes of the companies in which University of Wisconsin System Trust Funds are invested.
The general policy of the UW System Board of Regents is to ensure that the voting of proxies is conducted in a diligent manner that reflects the Board’s stewardship and fiduciary responsibilities. To this end, the following guidelines are to be adhered to:
Shareholder proxies dealing with “routine” corporate governance and management issues are generally to be voted by the investment managers, in accordance with each manager’s proxy voting guidelines.
Shareholder proxies dealing with “non-routine” corporate governance and management issues or issues involving some aspect of “social responsibility” are generally to be voted, or directed for voting, internally.
UW System Administration will regularly identify “non-routine” corporate governance and management issues or issues involving some aspect of “social responsibility” for, and provide analyses and recommendations to, the Board of Regents’ Business, Finance, and Audit Committee to assist it in its review. The Committee will then develop voting positions on the proxy proposals, which will be conveyed by UW System Administration staff to the investment managers as needed.
UW System Administration will then present to the Committee, at least annually, the results of the proxy voting season.
Has the institution filed or co-filed one or more shareholder resolutions that address sustainability or submitted one or more letters about social or environmental responsibility to a company in which it holds investments during the previous three years?:
Examples of how the institution has engaged with corporations in its portfolio about sustainability issues during the previous three years:
The 2013 proxy season saw the filing of 395 proposals related to social issues, up substantially from 358 last year. Through the end of June, 181 social issue proposals resulted in shareholder votes, 151 were withdrawn, 47 were allowed to be omitted by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), and 16 are still pending.
The categories of proposals that won strong shareholder support in 2013 included the following requests of companies: expand or report on fair employment policies; disclose and monitor political contributions; report on sustainability efforts; and, report on the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing. Each of these categories received, on average, the support of 24 percent or more of votes cast.
The majority of the sustainability withdrawals involved a promise by the company to produce a detailed sustainability report. The animal welfare withdrawals generally involved a promise by the company to review or report on animal treatment or specific welfare practices. Other notable withdrawals occurred in the environmental category on resolutions relating to sustainable palm oil, where six of the seven proposals were withdrawn. Palm oil has been the topic of much controversy due to the widespread deforestation associated with the plantations. The palm oil proposals asked companies to implement a “comprehensive sustainable palm oil policy.” All of the palm oil withdrawals represented negotiated agreements with the companies.
One notable global warming resolution was at Exxon Mobil. The proposal asked the company to “create a climate consensus task force to study how the company should factor global warming into its models for measuring, pricing, and distribution risk” under its current business model. This resolution was withdrawn after an agreement was reached. Of the total global warming resolutions, eleven were voted, five were withdrawn, and one was omitted. The global warming proposals which came to votes averaged 23 percent support in 2013, down from 26 percent in 2012.
Two notable human rights resolutions were at Expedia and Choice Hotels; these proposals focused on sex trafficking and exploitation of minors in American-owned hotels all over the world. The resolutions asked the firms to adopt human rights policies which included a commitment to the education and prohibition of sexual exploitation of minors. Both resolutions were withdrawn after the companies agreed to address the issue.
A new shareholder campaign for 2014 relates to the “Sandy Hook Principles” as mentioned above. The Sandy Hook Principles are modeled after the Global Sullivan Principles and were introduced by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in 2013. The Sandy Hook Principles include 20 principle statements whose application the authors and supporters believe “will improve the health, safety, and well-being of communities.” The principles include promoting automation of records and databases, requirement of universal firearm background checks which can be shared by all federal agencies, and development of technology-enhanced gun safety measures. A typical proposal in this campaign asks the company to report on the Sandy Hook Principles, including a list and summary of correspondence for all companies engaged in the policy.
For 2014, proposals have been presented at three companies: Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Allied Techsystems. We recommend the adoption of a new pre-approved issue, “Report/Act on Sandy Hook Principles.”
Does the institution engage in policy advocacy by participating in investor networks and/or engaging in inter-organizational collaborations to share best practices?:
A brief description of the investor networks and/or collaborations:
The website URL where information about the institution's sustainable investment efforts is available:
The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.