Nearly Half of Dillard's Shareholders Vote for Retailer to Issue Sustainability Report
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Nearly Half of Dillard's Shareholders Vote for Retailer to Issue Sustainability Report

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS///September 12, 2007/// The retailer Dillard’s reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing last week that 23,872,195 shares, (or 46.36 percent) were cast in support of  a shareholder resolution urging the company to prepare a sustainability report, according to Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS), the lead sponsor of the shareholder resolution. While the vote was taken in May 2007, Dillard’s delayed the disclosure of the vote totals until the release of its most recent quarterly report.

In addition to CBIS, the Dillard’s shareholder resolution was sponsored by the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, the New York City Pension Funds, and Amalgamated Bank’s LongView Collective Investment Funds, which had a total of 550,000 shares of Dillard’s stock.

Nearly 2,000 companies – including a number of U.S. retail industry leaders -- now release sustainability reports that disclose information about their environmental, social, and governance performance.

Christian Brothers Investment Services Corporate Advocacy Coordinator Julie Tanner said: “Given the company’s current lack of disclosure and the fact that preparation of this report will provide shareholders with a more complete view of the company’s policies, especially related to the strength of its existing supplier code of conduct, we encourage Dillard’s to join the mainstream of retail industry practices. Apparel manufacturers and retailers such as The Gap, Nike, Target and Timberland have recognized the growing relevance of global labor standards practices and have disclosed their supplier codes of conduct in publicly available reports. We know that Dillard’s cares a lot about these issues and does not want to be looked upon as a laggard in the industry.”
 
Christopher Smith, corporate governance research analyst, Amalgamated Bank, said:  “We hope that Dillard’s will join the ranks of other retail industry leaders and issue a sustainability report that would include the steps the company is taking to better identify, assess and control for sourcing risks. Becoming more transparent can help the company to increase its competitiveness, reduce risk, and enhance the credibility of its existing supplier code of conduct.  This type of transparency is an important aspect of corporate social responsibility and is a critical tool for building trust with investors and the public.”

New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., investment advisor to the five New York City Pension Funds, added:  "Sustainability reports can promote transparency and accountability and provide a level of assurance to investors that the company is managing risks to its operations. Shareholders believe this information is necessary for making well-informed investment decisions as it speaks to the vision and stewardship of management and can have significant impacts on a company's brand, reputation and on shareholder value. Given the high number of votes cast in favor of the resolution, shareholders have sent a clear message to Dillard's management that they are concerned about these issues and now Dillard's should address those concerns."
The investors work with and/or are members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a corporate accountability organization whose combined membership assets exceed $110 billion

The text of the shareholder resolution follows: 

“Whereas: Investors increasingly seek disclosure of companies’ environmental and social practices in the belief that they impact shareholder value. Many investors believe that companies that are good employers, environmental stewards, and corporate citizens may be more likely to generate incrementally better financial returns, be more stable during turbulent economic and political conditions, and enjoy long-term business success.
 
Sustainability refers to endeavors that meet present needs without impairing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. According to Dow Jones, ‘Corporate Sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental, and social developments. Corporate sustainability leaders achieve long-term shareholder value by gearing their strategies and management to harness the market's potential for sustainability products and services while at the same time successfully reducing and avoiding sustainability costs and risks.’

We believe that improved reporting on environmental, social and governance issues can strengthen our company and the people it serves. Furthermore, we believe this information is necessary for making well-informed investment decisions as it speaks to the vision and stewardship of management and can have significant impacts on our company’s reputation and on shareholder value.

Responding to interest from stakeholders about company policies and programs to address environmental and social issues, many companies are describing their initiatives in corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports. Globally, almost 1,900 companies produce reports on sustainability issues (www.corporateregister.com). Apparel manufacturers and retailers such as The Gap, Nike, and Adidas/Reebok have also issued publicly available reports that detail their policies, practices and programs.   

The GAP 2004 Social Responsibility Report provides a compelling rationale for sustainability reporting: “We believe that greater standardization of reporting is critical to promoting transparency and accountability within our industry. It is also an important step towards ensuring that human rights are broadly respected throughout supply chains.” 

RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a sustainability report to shareholders, at reasonable cost, and omitting proprietary information, by March 31, 2008.”


ABOUT CBIS

Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc., manages more than $4 billion, combining faith and finance in the responsible stewardship of Catholic financial assets.  CBIS' combination of premier institutional asset managers, diversified product offerings, and careful risk-control strategies constitutes a unique investment approach for Catholic institutions and their fiduciaries. CBIS strives to integrate faith-based values into the investment process through a disciplined approach to socially responsible investing that includes principled purchasing (stock screens), active ownership strategies (proxy voting, dialogues, and shareholder resolutions) and community investment. Visit CBIS on the Web at http://www.cbisonline.com.


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