P&G investors challenge CEO over forest destruction concerns at company’s annual meeting

In win for advocacy groups, 67% of shareholders split from company’s recommendation and vote yes on key proposal to protect boreal forest of Canada, tropical forests in Southeast Asia

CINCINNATI, OHIO — In a shocking move by Procter & Gamble’s shareholders that defied the company’s own recommendations, two-thirds of Procter & Gamble (P&G) shareholders voted “yes” at the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday, October 13, to pass a proposal on forest sourcing and impacts. The vote is a clear indication that despite repeated insistence from company executives, the world’s largest consumer goods company is not doing enough to deal with the financial threats of deforestation and forest degradation in its supply chains.

67% of shareholders voted yes on Green Century Equity Fund’s shareholder proposal #5 (page 78), which reads “Shareholders request P&G issue a report assessing if and how it could increase the scale, pace, and rigor of its efforts to eliminate deforestation and the degradation of intact forests in its supply chains.” (See the full text of the resolution below.)

“P&G’s CEO David Taylor has been trying to convince shareholders and customers that the company is doing enough for forests. Losing this shareholder resolution by a huge margin is a slap in David Taylor’s face and a clear rebuke. The owners of the company are saying directly to the CEO, ‘You have failed and you need to do more to protect forests,’” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director at Stand.earth.

“This is a clear directive from investors that P&G needs to do much more than the status quo to protect the world’s remaining intact forests. This vote makes clear that shareholders agree that P&G is not doing enough. The choice now for P&G is whether they will work with us to establish a more sustainable supply chain, or face even greater pressure from concerned citizens and their investors moving forward,” said Shelley Vinyard, Boreal Corporate Campaign Manager at NRDC.

“This vote is a clear sign that shareholders are asking Procter & Gamble to do more. P&G must take action for forests globally and the communities who depend on them. In Indonesia and Malaysia, P&G needs to take responsibility for the palm oil it sources for soaps and shampoos, and take a stand for workers rights, Indigenous rights, rainforests, and the global climate,” said Brihannala Morgan, Senior Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network.  

“Over the past decade, major institutional shareholders have too often failed to use their voting power to defund deforestation and forest degradation. Today’s overwhelming vote at Procter & Gamble is a watershed moment for shareholder power to challenge management and defend forests,” said Jeff Conant, Senior International Forest Program Manager with Friends of the Earth U.S.

The vote comes amid mounting pressure from international environmental advocacy groups — including Stand.earth, NRDC, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, David Suzuki Foundation, and Wildlands League — to expose the ways Indigenous and frontline communities have been historically impacted by Procter & Gamble’s destructive forest sourcing, land grabbing, and poor labor practices in the boreal forest of Canada as well as tropical forests in Malaysia and Indonesia, where the company sources some of its palm oil and fiber from. Learn more about the campaigns in this briefing note sent to P&G investors.

In recent weeks, advocacy groups had increased their campaigning in support of the proposal, hosting a virtual webcast critiquing P&G’s “Our Home” climate initiative, leading multiple days of protest outside the company’s headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and holding private meetings with shareholders to discuss the proposal. Groups including NRDC and Stand.earth met with a combined $90 billion of P&G investors representing about 30 percent of total shareholder value — including some of the largest investment institutions in the world.

Communications contact:  Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, [email protected] 

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