After a dip in 2018, shareholder proponents have stepped up filing resolutions on human rights this year. They include a familiar set of proposals about reporting on human rights risks and how companies are implementing current policies. Only five directly address operations in contested territory—a dominant issue three years ago—but five ask for new types of disclosure about immigrants and the penal system, and three other new proposals seek transparency about how tech and communications firms try to prevent online child sexual exploitation. Another new proposal asks about Alphabet/Google’s China policies, Saudi Arabia’ human rights violations feature at Booz Allen Hamilton and Oxfam is looking for food-specific assessments of human rights impacts at Amazon.com. Another new resolution about products connected to hate speech is before Amazon.com, as well.
Many of the recipient companies have not seen human rights proposals before, and many issues are new, tied to issues of intense public debate.
In all, there are 44 proposals on human rights, with 33 now pending and nine withdrawn so far. At least six await the outcome of pending challenges at the SEC, and more challenges are likely outstanding given the backup at the SEC after the government shutdown.