Laura Shaffer Campos
Director, Shareholder Activities
Caroline L. Williams
Executive Vice President, Nathan Cummings Foundation
In general, the Nathan Cummings Foundation has a reputation for sort of punching above its weight. This has certainly been true of our shareholder activism work.
We have filed (shareholder resolutions) with a number of the big publicly traded homebuilders and we’ve had a lot of really good success with them. The first year we talked about energy efficiency and climate change and the homebuilders were scratching their heads thinking climate change doesn’t really have anything to do with us, what are you talking about? And over the years we were really able to build a very, very strong case as to why this was absolutely something that they needed to be doing so after receiving proposals. KB Homes, for instance, basically put together a program where they were going to build all of their homes in new communities to Energy Star standards, which, you know, over time can have a huge impact on the climate change emissions associated with the operation of their homes. Pulte is another example of where we’ve been very successful and they actually chose to join the EPA’s climate leaders program and under that they have to commit to establishing emissions reductions for their operations.
I think it’s also a really good example of the synergy between our program values on the one hand and long-term shareholder value on the other, because clearly these companies wouldn’t be doing these things if they didn’t think that it was going to have positive implications for their business down the road, but also it has huge implications on such a great tie-in to the ecological innovations program arc.
Foundations and investors that are looking at the work that we do I think can become easily intimidated and say, ‘Oh boy, we could never do that,’ but I think we have always been successful, precisely because we haven't said that, precisely because we’ve sort of looked at issues and said, ‘Oh, we can do that’—and we sort of jumped right into things and it hasn’t always worked the first time or even in the long run, but I think that we’ve never been intimidated by the amount of work—that it might seem to be and we’ve just sort of done it and I think that’s been one of the reasons behind our success.