Raising the Bar

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The old adage stands firm:  actions speak louder than words.  The Treasurer’s Office uses a multifaceted approach to advance its sustainable investment strategy.  This includes direct engagement with corporate decision-makers, voting by proxy, weighing in on public policymaking, evaluating fund managers and portfolio companies by sustainability factors, working in coalition with other institutional investors, prioritizing diversity and inclusion, and various other measures.

 

The following table lists notable actions taken by the Treasurer’s Office.

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 ActionInvolved PartiesESG Factor/IssueDate Initiated

Illinois Treasurer releases its 2020 Annual Sustainable Investment Report

IL Treasury ESG July 2021
US Securities and Exchange Commission Logo

Called on the SEC to set rules for climate risk disclosure

U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Climate Change May 2021
Sempra

Strong Vote — Shareholders Condemn Sempra Energy’s Anti-Climate Lobbying

Sempra Energy Climate Risk May 2021
Duke Energy Logo

Voted against board directors at Duke Energy for climate oversight failures

Duke Energy Climate Change May 2021
JNJ

Led vote-no campaign for executive pay package at Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson Governance - Executive Compensation, Opioid Epidemic April 2021
Marathon

State Treasurers urge Marathon Petroleum to address safety and human capital management risks related to employee lockout at St. Paul Park Refinery

Marathon Petroleum Corporation Human Capital Management; Infrastructure Integrity March 2021

Amended our office's Proxy Voting Guidelines to integrate climate-related factors in the evaluation of board directors

Illinois Treasurer Climate Change February 2021
Raising the Bar Logo

Urged the Biden Administration to advance policy proposals ensuring a sustainable economy

Illinois Treasury Sustainability February 2021
Amazon Logo

Urged Amazon to respect and implement human and labor rights commitments related to freedom of association and a right to collective bargaining

Amazon Human Capital Management, Labor Rights February 2021
Raising the Bar Logo

Requested that Blackrock align disclosures of its own corporate political activities with its policy recommendations for portfolio companies

Illinois Treasury Transparency, Political Spending January 2021

Expressed concerns on the company's policy on reverse auctions and its impacts for pipeline and worker safety

Berkshire Hathaway Human Capital Management, Transparency January 2021
PCAOB

Opposed changes to reduce auditor independence

PCAOB Transparency December 2020
Facebook Logo

Called on Facebook to separate CEO and Board Chair roles amid constant controversies

Facebook Governance - Board Accountability December 2020
US Securities and Exchange Commission Logo

Supported the Nasdaq Proposal to adopt listing rules related to board diversity

SEC Board Diversity, Transparency December 2020
Sempra

Co-filed shareholder proposal asking Sempra Energy to align its lobbying activities with climate change goals under the Paris Agreement

Sempra Energy Climate Change November 2020
JNJ

Successfully engaged Johnson and Johnson to produce disclosure on oversight of opioid related risk exposures

Johnson & Johnson Opioid Epidemic October 2020
Raising the Bar Logo

Called on Russell 3000 companies to disclose on the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of their boards in a national effort to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion

Illinois Treasury Governance - Board Diversity, Transparency October 2020
DOL Logo

Opposed changes to restrict proxy voting for ERISA funds

Department of Labor Governance - Shareholder Rights October 2020
Johnson Controls Logo

Urged Johnson Controls to provide more transparency on human capital management in response to labor challenges and controversies in the wake of Covid-19

Johnson Controls COVID-19 Response, Human Capital Management, Transparency September 2020
Johnson Controls

Engaged Johnson Controls to increase oversight and reporting on human capital management issues related to COVID-19

Johnson Controls Human Capital Management September 2020
MIDI Logo

Urged the adoption of the Rooney Rule, and the addition of women and minorities to more than 40 companies through the Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative

Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative Governance - Board Diversity August 2020
Raising the Bar Logo

Published the Illinois State Treasurer's Office 2019 Annual Sustainability Report

Illinois Treasury Sustainability, Transparency July 2020
Raising the Bar Logo

Signed on to a letter urging federal and state financial regulators to integrate climate change across mandates 

Ceres Climate Change July 2020
DOL Logo

Opposed a proposed rule change to restrict the consideration of ESG factors in ERISA funds

Department of Labor Governance - Shareholder Rights July 2020
US Securities and Exchange Commission Logo

Urged the SEC to require comprehensive disclosure for public companies on COVID-19 impacts 

SEC Transparency June 2020
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STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

The Treasurer’s Office gains immense value working in partnership with coalitions, corporate governance experts, and other investors. Partnerships help us pursue learning opportunities, advance leading investment practices, and ultimately be better fiduciaries seeking to protect assets and maximize returns. That’s why we are active members of several major investor networks, including those featured below, which are made up of leading asset management firms, public pension funds, labor funds, foundations, endowments, family offices, and other state treasurers.

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INCLUSION

  • Creating More Opportunities for Minorities, Women, Veterans, and Disabled-Owned (“MWVD”) Businesses – Inclusion is a key pillar of the Treasurer's approach to investing.  Research demonstrates that MWVD-owned companies are often well-situated to ascertain capital inefficiencies in the market, and as such, many are primed to outperform their peers.  Treasurer Frerichs and his team have transformed the culture, policies, and operations of the Treasury to enhance opportunities available to MWVD individuals and business partners.  Since Treasurer Frerichs came into office, the Treasury has increased utilization of MWVD broker/dealers from 1% to 63%.  Put another way, in FY 2014, total assets brokered with MWVD firms was $603 million.  In FY 2017, total assets brokered with MWVD firms was $24 billion.  That represents a 40-fold increase.  
  • Advocating for Corporate Board Diversity – The Treasurer’s Office believes that corporate board diversity is a critical dimension of effective board composition and performance.  Diversity means including women, racial minorities and the LGBT community in the pool for board candidate selection.  As such, the Treasurer’s Office is taking a proactive approach to stop the status quo and help ensure board diversity is a corporate governance priority.  The Treasurer's Office is a member of the Midwest Investors' Diversity Initiative, a coalition of investors using their corporate relationships and shareholder rights to encourage boardroom change.  Treasurer Frerichs also joined other state and local leaders in urging corporate board diversity by signing a Joint Statement on Corporate Board Diversity in June 2016.
  • Advocating for Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards – The Treasurer's Office is a proud member of the Thirty Percent Coalition.  This groundbreaking organization is committed to the goal of women, including women of color, holding more boardroom seats across public companies. Doing so leads to a greater return on the money we invest on behalf of the State of Illinois. Studies show that companies with gender diverse boards are 15 percent more likely to outperform the median in their industry.
  • Increasing Inclusion in the Financial Services Industry – The Treasurer’s Office is a proud member of the Financial Services Pipeline Initiative, adding its voice and resources to a coalition of prominent financial institutions with a mission to (1) increase the representation of Latinos and African Americans, at all levels, within the Chicago area financial services industry, and (2) improve the overall cultural competency within the Chicago area financial services industry.  The Treasurer’s Office actively participates on the CEO Leadership Council and the Steering Committee to devise core strategies and develop action plans.
  • Collaborating with the Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project – The Treasurer’s Office is a steadfast supporter of the numerous efforts led by the Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project.  The Wall Street Project is dedicated to ending the multi-billion dollar trade deficit with minority vendors and consumers by working to ensure equal opportunity for diverse employees, entrepreneurs, and consumers.
  • Assets Brokered by MWVD Firms

COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT

  • Enforcing Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Standards – The Treasurer’s Office wants to encourage an open and effective banking system that grows local communities and boosts Illinois’ economy.  By law, the Treasurer’s Office is authorized to consider a financial institution’s record and current level of financial commitment to its local community when deciding whether to deposit State funds in that financial institution.  Under Treasurer Frerichs, depository institutions are ineligible to do business with the Treasurer’s Office if they have a CRA rating below “satisfactory.”  To learn more about CRA priorities, please visit our Community Reinvestment Act page
  • Utilizing Top-Rated Banking Debt Issuers – In line with the Treasurer's commitment to community development and accountability, all approved banking debt issuers that do business with the Treasurer’s Office maintain a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rating of "outstanding" or "satisfactory" (as of June 2016).

ENVIRONMENT

  • Investing in Green Bonds – Investing in environmental-impact bonds not only results in positive societal impacts, it provides a strong investment return for the State of Illinois.  That's why the Treasurer's Office has invested $70 million in green bonds, proceeds which are used to fund investments in the productive use of renewable energy, sustainable forestry, energy efficiency, energy optimization, and the production of clean energy sources.
     
  • Inclusion and Green Technology Goals under ILGIF – As a part of the Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund (ILGIF), the Treasurer’s Office seeks to support fund managers that have demonstrated experience and/or an express ability to invest in green technology businesses located in Illinois.  To learn more about ILGIF, please visit our Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund page.
     
  • Calvert Equity Portfolio – Individuals and families using the Treasurer’s Bright Directions College Savings Program have the opportunity to invest in a mutual fund, Calvert Equity Portfolio, that is specially tailored to recognize sustainability factors.  Portfolio companies in this fund are judged by their sustainability performance.  And not only does this help promote responsible sustainability best practices, but this assessment helps inform risk and opportunity factors tied to enterprise value and investment performance.