SEC rules Amazon must allow shareholder vote on resolution by nonprofit As You Sow inquiring about its retirement plan; As You Sow claims plan directs investments into companies flagged as major greenhouse gas emitters, involved in rainforest destruction

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BERKELEY, California , April 11, 2022 (press release) –

SEC allows Amazon shareholders to vote on resolution about retirement plan that holds big oil and rainforest destruction

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Friday ruled against’s “no-action” motion to exclude the As You Sow shareholder resolution asking the company to prepare a report on why the company operates under one set of climate policies for its operations and the opposite in its employee retirement investments.

“The SEC has determined that shareholders asking Amazon why its retirement plan directs employee savings into big oil and companies burning down the Amazon is a valid question,” said As You Sow CEO Andrew Behar. “We believe that most employees actually have no idea that their hard-earned savings are being invested in companies, essentially destroying their ability to retire on a livable planet. The brand damage of having the company say one thing and do another is important to measure and understand. We are pleased to see the fleet of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles, but it causes cognitive dissonance when at the same time the company has $621 million in oil, coal, and fossil-fired utilities and $48 million invested in deforestation-risk agribusiness.”

As You Sow, a nonprofit shareholder advocacy organization, publishes monthly report cards rating mutual funds and retirement plans as part of its Invest Your Values initiative. Amazon uses Vanguard Target Date funds as the default retirement options, resulting in the majority of plan investments flowing into funds holding companies flagged as major greenhouse gas emitters, and involved in Indonesian and Amazon rainforest destruction. While Amazon does offer one “sustainable option” for its employees, less than 2% of the plan’s assets are invested in it. Yet, in interviews with Amazon employees and in polls with investors broadly, more than 70% say that they would like to invest sustainably and, specifically, not in oil, coal, and deforestation. 

In multiple meetings with Amazon executives and senior attorneys, As You Sow advocates were told that the company did not intend to make any changes even though company representatives acknowledged their retirement plan is out of alignment with company climate goals. The corporate giant also refused to improve training to help interested employees understand how to shift their savings to the one sustainable fund option.

As You Sow has shared ads, like the one below, on social media to engage with Amazon employees and link them to a deep dive into the Amazon 401(k) plan.

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As You Sow is the nation’s leading shareholder advocacy nonprofit, with a 30-year track record promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility and advancing values-aligned investing. Its issue areas include climate change, ocean plastics, pesticides, racial justice, workplace diversity, and executive compensation. Click here for As You Sow’s shareholder resolution tracker.

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Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

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