Our Demands

Part 1: Position on responsible ownership

The Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition asks that Harvard University and Harvard Management Company adopt and apply the following position on responsible ownership to all funds and companies in which it holds a controlling stake–that is, it is a majority shareholder, majority owner, or full owner.

As a nonprofit educational and research institution, Harvard University and its subsidiary Harvard Management Company have a responsibility to ensure Harvard does not negatively impact the world. As such, Harvard will act to ensure that the policies of the companies of which it is holds a controlling stake comply with the following regulations:

1. Legal Compliance. Companies of which Harvard owns a controlling stake must comply with all local, national and international laws and treaties in all areas where the company is operating, whether or not these laws are rigorously enforced by local authorities.

2. Environmental practices. Companies of which Harvard owns a controlling stake must release detailed reports on current emissions and environmental impact and their plans for sustainable practices. They must also commit to concrete reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Labor practices. Companies of which Harvard owns a controlling stake must recognize workers’ right to collective bargaining and union representation, as well as promise neutrality and a fair process for unionization, even if these rights are not enshrined in local legislation. They must also guarantee parity in wages and benefits between directly hired and sub-contracted employees.

4. Land rights. Companies of which Harvard owns a controlling stake must not infringe on any legitimate land tenure rights, including where such rights are not formally recorded, and must seek to prevent all violent conflict over land tenure rights.

5. Non-discrimination policies. Companies of which Harvard owns a controlling stake must state and abide by a comprehensive non-discrimination policy that forbids discrimination in hiring or employment based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or disability.

6. Transparency in corporate governance. Companies of which Harvard owns a controlling stake must produce and publish online annual reports disclosing all political contributions, all lobbying activities with an explanation of the purpose, position and compensation of the top ten highest-compensated employees, and conflicts of interests.

Part 2: Accountability

To remain accountable to these positions on responsible ownership, Harvard Management Company and Harvard University will release separate reports for each company that Harvard owns a controlling stake in, available for download publically from www.harvard.edu. Each report must detail how the company is complying with the regulations above.

The Harvard Management Company’s Vice President for Sustainability will oversee the enforcement, documentation, and reporting of HMC’s compliance with these principles.

Part 3: Congruence with university policies on campus and international standards

Many of these policies are in accordance with policies that Harvard University applies to its Cambridge and Boston campuses. When Harvard does not itself have standards, we request that Harvard comply with basic international standards of human rights as enshrined in legal treaties and agreements

1. Legal compliance. Agricola Brinzal, a Chilean logging company 99.99 percent owned by Harvard, is currently being sued by CONAF, the National Forestry Corporation of the Ministry of Agriculture of Chile, for multiple violations of Chilean law against deforesting native forest and reforesting with eucalyptus trees. Another Chilean company owned by Harvard, Agrícola Duramen Limitada, was fined by Chilean courts for similar activity. Workers at the DoubleTree Hotel in Allston, which is owned fully by Harvard, filed suit with the National Labor Relations Board in April, 2013  alleging that management illegally interfered with their unionization process. Harvard must ensure that legal violations like these do not take place at any company in which it holds a controlling stake.

2. Environmental practices. Harvard has an established commitment to sustainability and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The University’s website states, “Harvard University believes universities have an accountability to the future– a special role and a special responsibility to address global challenges as large as climate change and environmental sustainability.” Harvard’s Sustainability Principles note, “The University has an affirmative record of responsible compliance with environmental and safety regulations and a proven effective system of environmental management accountability.” The university has also committed to a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from a 2006 baseline by 2016. This accountability must also apply to the companies in which Harvard has a controlling stake.

3. Labor practices. Harvard has repeatedly recognized the right of its workers to organize for a union with a fair process–including employer neutrality–and to bargain collectively. Companies of which Harvard has a controlling stake should similarly recognize workers’ right to collective bargaining without employer retribution as well as union representation, even if these rights are not enshrined in local laws. Similarly, Harvard’s wage and benefit parity policy ensures that wages and benefits given to Harvard’s direct employees are shared by vendor and sub-contracted employees. The principles and protections of fair labor treatment should not be bypassed by outsourcing personnel to companies which violate those standards. In addition, all of the companies in which Harvard has a controlling stake should comply with the recommendations of the International Labor Organization for fair treatment of workers, including occupational health and safety recommendations, recommendations for working conditions in hotels and restaurants, and recommendations for indigenous and tribal populations.

4. Land rights. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security define legitimate land tenure rights and provide the international standards for good governance. Harvard should abide by these guidelines, which are endorsed by organizations including the United Nations General Assembly and the G20.

5. Non-discrimination policies. Harvard University’s own published non-discrimination policy states that “Any form of discrimination based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or disability unrelated to course requirements is contrary to the principles and policies of Harvard University.” The same policy must apply in hiring and employment policies for all companies in which Harvard has a controlling stake.

6. Transparency in corporate governance. Harvard University discloses lobbying activities, including dollars spent and positions on bills on which it lobbies. The Harvard Office of Federal Relations explains university positions on central lobbying issues. The university discloses compensation for top-paid Harvard Management Company executives and Harvard University officials. Examples of potential conflicts of interest, include: (1) the company has a business relationship, including one-time transactions, with an organization or individual with which a director or senior officer of the company, including his/her immediate family members, (a) has or had a personal, professional, or business affiliation with, (b) has an ownership interest in, or (c) has a financial or compensation arrangement with; (2) the company’s independent auditing firm also provides other consulting services to the company; or (3) the company bought back company shares from a director or senior officer.

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