Raising the Bar

Home / Office of the Treasurer / Actions Taken

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
For the Long Term

Thirteen State Treasurers and NYC Comptroller Denounce Playing Politics with the Financial Security of States and Taxpayers

For the Long Term Governance / Risk Management, Transparency September 2022
Raising the Bar Logo

Illinois Treasurer publishes its 2021 Sustainable Investment Report

Illinois Treasurer Sustainable investing September 2022
Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative

Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative acts to increase board diversity at Midwest companies

Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative Governance / Board Diversity July 2022
Raising the Bar Logo

Barron's Op-Ed: "Even the Best Leaders Need Diverse Oversight" 

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Ariel Co-CEO John W. Rogers, Jr. Board Diversity May 2022
US Securities and Exchange Commission Logo

Urged the SEC to enhance the rules by which companies disclose their climate risk exposures and management processes

U.S Securities & Exchange Commission Climate Change May 2022
Southern Company

Flagged vote at Southern Company on climate and governance shortfalls

Southern Company, Climate Action 100+ Climate Change / Governance April 2022
PRI

Illinois Treasury contributes to UNPRI report on the materiality of human capital management to business performance

Principles for Responsible Investment Human Capital Management March 2022
Southern Missouri Bancorp logo

Introduced shareholder proposal at Southern Missouri Bancorp to improve board diversity

Southern Missouri Bancorp Board Diversity March 2022

Bipartisan Joint Statement of State Treasurers on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

38 State Treasurers Risk Management; Transparency March 2022
Amazon Logo

Requested a meeting with Amazon to discuss worker safety following deaths of six workers at the company's Edwardsville, Ill., warehouse in December 2021

Amazon Human Capital Management; Worker Safety January 2022
Activision Blizzard

Leading a coalition of state treasurers in calling on Activision Blizzard to address human capital management challenges

Activision Blizzard Human Capital Management November 2021
berkshire

Filed shareholder proposal at Berkshire Hathaway seeking increased board oversight of environmental, social and governance issues

Berkshire Hathaway ESG Risk Management November 2021
US Securities and Exchange Commission Logo

Called on the SEC to require companies to disclose their workforce demographic data

U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Equity, Diversity & Inclusion November 2021
US Securities and Exchange Commission Logo

Called on the SEC to modernize disclosure requirements on human capital management and climate change

U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Human Capital Management and Climate Risk October 2021
PRI

IL Treasurer recognized by PRI for raising the bar on investment management and the integration of sustainability factors

IL Treasurer Investment Management Practices October 2021
Raising the Bar Logo

Co-signed letter to large investment firms on voter suppression efforts and seeking support ensuring economic and political stability

Asset Management Firms Systemic Risk Management October 2021
Raising the Bar Logo

Led investor coalition to encourage all companies in the Russell 3000 to disclose the race and gender of their boards

Russell 3000 Index Board Diversity October 2021
Facebook Logo

Re-filed shareholder proposal at Facebook to separate the CEO and Board Chair to reduce investor risk amid controversy

Facebook Board Governance September 2021
Wells Fargo

Encouraged Wells Fargo to conduct and disclose the results of a Human Rights Impact Assessment to better understand the risks of human rights infringements

Wells Fargo Human Capital Management; Human Rights September 2021
US Congress Logo

Treasurer Frerichs joins 70 fellow institutional investors calling for passage of the For The People Act to protect the right to vote and ensure economic stability

U.S. Congress Voter Suppression August 2021

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
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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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DIVERSITY & 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 Office of the Illinois Treasurer has increased utilization of MWVD broker/dealers from 1% to 77%.  Put another way, total assets brokered by MWVD firms increased from $603 million in FY 2014 to $39 billion in FY 2021. That represents a 64-fold increase. 
    • The Office of the Illinois Treasurer has increased assets managed by MWVD firms from $18 million in December 2014 to $3.3 billion as of June 2021. That represents a 183-fold increase. 
    • Click here for more information on the Illinois Treasurer's focus on equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative – The Illinois Treasurer leads the Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative (MIDI), a 16-member coalition comprised of regional institutional investors with over $820 billion in assets under management. MIDI engages companies in the Midwest facing board diversity shortfalls, working collaboratively to understand company policies and practices and make targeted recommendations to institutionalize best practices and improve board diversity. MIDI works with companies to adopt a diverse search policy known as the “Rooney Rule,” which has its origins in the National Football League. The Rooney Rule provides that, for every open board seat, women and racial minority candidates be included in the initial search pool of candidates.
    • Since launching in 2016, MIDI has conducted 75 company engagements, and 34 companies have committed to adopt the Rooney Rule. In addition, 90 women and persons of color have gained corporate board seats following engagement.
       
  • Thirty Percent Coalition – Since 2018, the Illinois Treasurer has been actively involved on the Board of Directors of the Thirty Percent Coalition, which is comprised of over 90 members with over $7 trillion in assets under management (AUM). This coalition is committed to the goal of advancing women, including women of color, on boards of public companies.
    • As a leader of the Thirty Percent Coalition, the Illinois Treasurer and fellow investors have successfully engaged nearly 400 companies that have now appointed women to their boards.
       
  • Russell 3000 Disclosure on Racial/Ethnic Board Diversity – The Illinois Treasurer is leading a campaign, launched in October 2020, asking all companies in the Russell 3000 to disclose the racial, ethnic and gender composition of their Board of Directors in their proxy statements. We believe the business case for board diversity warrants the request for full disclosure. Our office, joined by fellow institutional investors, is asking leading American companies to self-correct this omission if they do not do so already. Supporters of this effort will be examining policies to vote against nominating committees with no reported racial/ethnic diversity in their proxy statements and expanding more direct shareholder engagement.

ANNUAL REPORTS

The Illinois Treasurer publishes an annual sustainable investment report every year. These reports showcase in detail the Illinois Treasurer's sustainable investing priorities and activities during the relevant calendar year.