Intel Becomes First Company to Commit to Political Giving Alignment Review
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SANTA CLARA, CA – After fruitful negotiations with NorthStar Asset Management, Inc., a Boston-based wealth management firm, Intel Corporation will become the first U.S. corporation to commit to reviewing its political contributions for congruence with its company policies (such as the Intel Code of Conduct, Environmental, Health, & Safety Policy, Climate Change Policy, and Water Policy). NorthStar began this engagement with Intel last fall with the filing of a shareholder proposal on behalf of its pension plan, in which the firm conveyed its concern for potential misalignments between what Intel stands for and how the corporation spends its political giving dollars.
In the past three years, shareholders have filed numerous stockholder proposals in an attempt to address their concerns regarding corporate political spending. Most of these resolutions have focused on corporate disclosure. NorthStar’s proposal is the first to request a link between corporate policies and political activity.
“Examples all around us show growing awareness of and concern with the relationship between company values and corporate engagement in the political realm,” explains NorthStar’s CEO Julie Goodridge. “The 2010 contribution by Target to the partisan nonprofit group Minnesota Forward, recent outrage against ALEC and the subsequent exodus by corporations, and widespread public concern about how much money was funneled from corporations into the 2012 presidential election— these events all reinforced in my mind that shareholders need a clearer sense of how corporations are spending their investment dollars. Our success at Intel gives the company’s investors just that opportunity.”
NorthStar is concerned that when a company makes political contributions that do not line up with stated company values as depicted by company policies, the company’s brand, reputation, and ultimately shareholder value are put at risk. Intel’s updated Political Accountability Guidelines reinforces the company’s commitment to evaluating contributions made by the corporation’s and INTCPAC’s (the company’s political action committee) political spending contributions as compared to the company’s stated policies. When significant “incongruencies” arise between contributions and the company’s policies, Intel will disclose this information as part of its political accountability disclosure process.
According to Cary Klafter, Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs and Corporate Secretary at Intel, “Intel has a longstanding commitment to corporate responsibility and stakeholder engagement, and this includes our commitment to transparency and accountability regarding our political contributions. For a number of years, we have provided extensive disclosure regarding our political contributions and oversight processes, and we regularly engage with stakeholders to understand areas where our policies and reporting can be strengthened. Based on our dialogue with NorthStar, we saw an opportunity to update our Political Accountability Guidelines and clarify certain aspects of our review processes and disclosure.”
“In a world where other shareholder activists are succeeding at getting companies to disclose all political giving, having corporations report on when and why they made incongruent contributions is really essential,” states Goodridge. “We need to make sure that companies explain the reasoning behind incongruent contributions publically before a publicity storm ensues, potentially damaging shareholder value.”
It appears that adults in the U.S. might be more interested in how companies make political contributions than we realize. In a Harris Poll released in October 2010, nearly half of all respondents (46%) indicated that given the option, they would shop elsewhere if they learned that a business they patronized had contributed to a candidate or a cause that they opposed.
NorthStar insists that these types of “discrepancies” between policy and contribution are, indeed, the concern of fiduciaries and shareholders alike. “Standards and ethics as defined in stated company values, combined with risk management, are essential components of a profitable company. Touting values to the public on the one hand and ignoring them in the other is bad for business,” said Goodridge.
NorthStar Asset Management, Inc., based in Boston, is a wealth management company with a focus on socially responsible investing.
Contact: Julie Goodridge
NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.