Shareholder Activism

In 2000, NorthStar filed its first shareholder resolution and now activism is an integral part of the social investment process at our company. We strategize about which problem we want to target and which company would be the best place to bring our perspective forward. We analyze all the data we can get our hands on and make groundbreaking connections between social, ecological and political issues and company behavior.

We consider it a fiduciary duty to engage with the companies in which we invest to improve the company’s standing on such issues as human rights, the environment, diversity, employee relations, immigration, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality.

Race & Gender

Add sexual orientation and/or gender identity to the company’s non-discrimination policy. Fuel Cell, Hubbell, FedEx, Home Depot, Exxon Mobil, Idex Corporation
Commitment to including women and minorities in board search EMC, Intel, Harsco, Home Depot, IDEXX Laboratories, Stryker, Whole Foods Market, Costco, Ecolab
Link executive pay to diversity in senior management IDEXX Laboratories, WhiteWave Foods
Gender disparity in health insurance cost Aetna
Race & gender equity compensation report Wal-Mart
Report on race and gender of stock option recipients Verizon, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart


Economic Inequality

Report on racial/ethnic disparity in loan costs Wells Fargo
Big box store siting and land procurement policy changes Costco
Community reinvestment Western Union
Home preservation rate Wells Fargo


Human Rights

Assess cost/impact of AZ immigration law on Company First Solar
Create a Board Committee on Human Rights Apple, Western Union
Report on how investment policies address or could address human rights issues (Sudan) Citigroup, Merrill Lynch


Environment & Safety

Adopt a policy supporting the human right to water Connecticut Water Services, PepsiCo, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Aqua America, AIG, Ecolab, Keurig Green Mountain, Exxon Mobil, Mead Johnson Nutrition
Report on chemical and biological testing data for beverage products Coca-Cola
Cease anti-GMO support through associations WhiteWave Foods
Sustainability report Chubb


Corporate Governance

Executive compensation review Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Coca-Cola, Hain Celestial
Equal shareholder voting (one vote per share) Google, Facebook
Congruency between Political Contributions and Company Values General Mills, Staples, McGraw Hill, FedEx, Home Depot, Procter & Gamble, Chubb, Ecolab, Johnson & Johnson, Google, Western Union, Intel, Praxair, EMC, CVS Health
Risk governance committee Western Union
Say on pay Hain Celestial, Tootsie Roll, Johnson & Johnson

Local & Direct Investing

NorthStar clients seeking a more direct impact with their investments  invest in a variety of community loan funds and alternative investments. Because loan funds are perceived as riskier than other types of fixed income, NorthStar carefully vets and selects investment opportunities, matching loan funds with clients who have specific interests and appropriate risk tolerance.  Examples of partnerships include: Boston Community Capital, Cooperative Fund of New England and Working Capital for Community Needs. We review alternative investments on a case by case basis when opportunities arise, or when guided through our work with individual clients to include alternatives to traditional investment vehicles. We develop long-term relationships with each of the loan funds in which are clients are invested, and have a policy to openly engage with the loan funds as needed.


Financial Literacy

Financial literacy isn’t typically taught in school, yet it’s a complicated topic every adult needs to master. Beyond the basics of balancing a checkbook and budgeting monthly expenses, consumers have to understand the finer points of saving, borrowing and investing. NorthStar helps clients and women of all ages and stages of life to take control of their financial lives. Topics include credit risk, managing student loans, budgeting, cash flow, charitable giving and investing. To learn more about NorthStar’s financial education courses contact us at 617.522.2635 or

Proxy Voting

Every year shareholders are asked to vote on a range of issues from approving the Board of Directors slate and executive compensation packages to shaping policies that ensure fair labor practices and combat global warming. Shareholders’ rights allow individual and institutional owners to bring pertinent issues to the proxy ballot for a vote. In a majority of cases, these resolutions raise social, environmental, and corporate governance concerns in an effort to encourage more responsible corporate practices.

To influence a corporation’s behavior, shareholder activists employ two general tactics: negotiating directly with the company, and submitting shareholder proposals. Frequently, engagement with corporations begins with negotiation upon a particular topic. When these dialogues are fruitless, activists take their engagement to the next level: asking the shareholders themselves to affirm the importance of the issue. With the intention of eliciting policy changes from the management, activists file shareholder proposals, meeting specific Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidelines, which are then voted on by shareholders at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Exercising shareholder voting power is a critical way to shape corporate decision-making. Working to raise awareness among corporate management with the goal of ultimately creating corporate policies that change the way the company approaches its business and responsibilities is an integral piece of shareholder activism.




NorthStar’s clients have a strong giving tradition, making annual charitable gifts that support hundreds of organizations committed to progressive causes. Take a look at a small sample of the non-profits our clients support.


NorthStar’s decades-long commitment to socially responsible investing and our thoughtful strategy of shareholder activism puts the firm out in front of many of today’s hot-button investment issues.

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