SEC denies J&J request to exclude racial-audit proposal | Corporate Secretary

The SEC has rejected a request from Johnson & Johnson that it exclude from its proxy statement a shareholder proposal that it conduct a ‘civil rights audit.’

Trillium Asset Management, on behalf of Christopher and Anne Ellinger, has submitted the measure requesting that Johnson & Johnson ‘conduct and publish a third-party audit… to review its corporate policies, practices, products and services, above and beyond legal and regulatory matters; to assess the racial impact of the company’s policies, practices, products and services; and to provide recommendations for improving the company’s racial impact.’

The full text of the proposal notes that last year’s Black Lives Matter protests brought systemic racism into the center of public discussion and argues that ‘business as usual in the healthcare sector can result in disparate outcomes for black Americans.’ The proposal also notes that last June Johnson & Johnson made commitments to address underrepresentation in clinical trials, among other things. ‘While these commitments are positive steps taken during a time of acute reflection on racism in America, we believe a third-party civil rights audit would demonstrate an even deeper commitment, provide rigorous independent insights, and may reveal additional ways in which [Johnson & Johnson] can have even more impact on systemic racism,’ the proponents write.

SEC denies J&J request to exclude racial-audit proposal | Corporate Secretary

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