SAN JOSE, CA. – At Cisco’s annual meeting of shareholders, 32 percent of Cisco shares voted were cast in support of a proxy resolution asking the networking giant to disclose actions it is taking to reduce the likelihood its business practices enable human rights violations. Boston Common Asset Management was the lead sponsor of the resolution, which was submitted for the fourth consecutive year at Cisco.
Dawn Wolfe, research analyst at Boston Common, said:
“The potential impact of Cisco’s global operations on human rights will only intensify going forward. We would like management to be more transparent with shareholders about its strategy to ensure Cisco products and services are not used to stifle human rights, and ultimately stifle demand for the networks it builds. We have been raising this concern with Cisco since 2005. Today’s vote demonstrates that our concerns are widely held by Cisco shareholders. We hope the strong vote encourages management to answer its shareholders and meaningfully engage on this issue.”
A statement made by Boston Common at the annual meeting noted:
“The company’s apparent failure to raise questions about user privacy and security with its global business partners and customers is not acceptable. Just six months ago, Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler was called for the second time to testify before a congressional panel on the company’s activities in Internet restricting countries. Legislation is currently pending in the House of Representatives that would place a host of new restrictions on companies, including Cisco, that are doing business in those markets. We are not asking management to exit markets vulnerable to human rights related risks, but to be transparent about how they are managing them. Where politically and socially repressive policies inhibit the maximization of network traffic, Cisco shareholders lose.”
The resolution was filed by Boston Common Asset Management and by several additional investors including: Catholic Healthcare West, City of New York Office of the Comptroller, Domini Social Investments, Calvert, Ethical Funds of Canada, Sisters of St. Dominic of Tacoma, Dominican Sisters of Hope, Mercy Investment Program, Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit, Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province. The proponents hold over 24 million shares of Cisco in total.
About Boston Common
Boston Common is an employee-owned investment firm dedicated to the pursuit of financial return and social change. We seek sustainable, long-term capital appreciation by investing in diversified portfolios of profitable, attractively valued, socially responsible enterprises. We then encourage them to further improve the social profile of their operations. As of 9/30/2008, Boston Common managed approximately $900 million in assets, including subadvised accounts, across multiple investment strategies. We offer U.S. core- or value-oriented equity and balanced accounts, as well as international and small cap options. Boston Common works to advance our clients’ social missions globally through independent research and effective shareholder advocacy. We use our leverage as shareholders to influence corporate practices, often in collaboration with activist organizations and coalitions of shareholders.