Home Depot Shareholders Affirm the Importance of Oversight and Disclosure for Prison Labor


Home Depot Shareholders Affirm the Importance of Oversight and Disclosure for Prison Labor

Boston, MA and Atlanta, GA (June 3, 2019) – At The Home Depot’s annual shareholder meeting on May 23rd, approximately 30% of shareholders voted in favor of a shareholder proposal that asked for disclosure of prison labor in the company’s supply chain.

Brought by Boston-based socially responsible investment firm NorthStar Asset Management, Inc., the proposal points out a disconnect between The Home Depot’s responsible sourcing policies and the company’s supply chain. In the proposal presented at the annual meeting, NorthStar highlighted a story from 2017 in which a product was made at a rehab program that was “under scrutiny for making participants work grueling jobs for free.”[1] While international suppliers are held to specific standards, The Home Depot’s responsible sourcing program does not routinely review all manufacturers in the U.S.

“We believe Home Depot needs a policy mandating reviews on all suppliers, including those manufacturing in the U.S., in order to ensure that our company never again inappropriately benefits from the labor of individuals in prison or in diversion programs,” stated NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.’s CEO Julie Goodridge.

NorthStar began filing shareholder proposals on the topic of prison labor in corporate supply chains in 2017, the result of a multi-year research project that NorthStar considers part of its fiduciary duty to clients. Goodridge explained NorthStar’s commitment on this issue by discussing the historical context. “In the 19th century, the United States abolished slavery ‘except as punishment for crime,’ allowing the use of slave labor rather than paid labor for early corporate profit. This tradition continues as some incarcerated individuals are producing products or performing services for outside suppliers to various organizations, including publicly traded companies.” NorthStar produced a position paper on investors’ approach to understanding and engaging on prison labor, which is available on NorthStar’s website.

NorthStar explained that because prison labor and forced labor at diversion programs exist in the United States – where prison labor is legal – The Home Depot needs to review their entire supply chain. “In our engagement with the company, Home Depot was unwilling to adopt a procedural change to improve supplier reviews in the United States so that it could avoid this situation in the future. The shareholder vote of 30% illustrates shareholder concern about prison labor and other exploitative labor in the company supply chain. Shareholders want disclosure on how the company is proactively managing that risk,” stated NorthStar’s Director of Shareholder Activism and Engagement, Mari Schwartzer.

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. is a progressive wealth management firm based in Boston with a mandate to invest responsibly.  At NorthStar, creative shareholder engagement is a positive force for change.

Contact: Julie Goodridge

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.

Boston, Massachusetts





[1] https://www.revealnews.org/article/top-arkansas-politician-uses-labor-from-rehab-work-camp/


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