March 25, 2015: Shareholders sent a strong message to the management of National Fuel Gas Company (NYSE: NFG) earlier this month, with one in three votes cast in favor of a company-wide non-discrimination policy inclusive of gender identity or expression. This is the second consecutive year that Trillium Asset Management’s shareholder proposal garnered more than one third of the votes cast for the proposal — and against management’s recommendation.
The shareholder proposal filed by Trillium on behalf of our client, The Social Justice Fund NW, requests the Board of Directors to:
amend the company’s written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression and to take concrete action to implement the policy.
ISS Proxy Advisory Services, the leading provider of proxy voting advice for investors, recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the proposal, stating that:
“The addition of such a policy would benefit shareholders by establishing the company as an inclusive workplace; and The proposed policy could also enhance the company’s ability to attract and retain talent and help the company avoid potential controversies and liabilities.”
Federal law does not provide sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination protection.
According to Human Rights Campaign, 61% of the Fortune 500 companies as of 2014 have successfully implemented nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity or expression. Energy sector peers, are well represented in this group. Regrettably, National Fuel Gas is now a laggard when it comes to protecting employees against discrimination.
On July 21, 2014, President Obama amended Executive Order 11246, which was originally issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson, prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The regulations are expected to become effective on April 8, 2015.
For more information: Randy Rice, Trillium Asset Management, (617) 515-6889, firstname.lastname@example.org
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