J.B. Hunt Majority Backs LGBT Protection, Activist Investor Saysby
Trucker's board to reconsider proposal as 54% vote in favor
Results are non-binding but `significant,' Trillium says
J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. shareholders voted 54 percent in favor of a proposal to explicitly protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers from discrimination in the Arkansas-based trucking company’s employment policies, according to an investor activist.
The company’s board of directors had recommended that shareholders vote against the addition to worker policy but will now reconsider it, said Brianna Murphy, head of shareholder advocacy at Boston-based Trillium Asset Management LLC. Trillium, which has more than $2 billion under management and owns more than 172,000 shares of J.B. Hunt, put forth the proposal.
J.B. Hunt, which called the measure unnecessary in its proxy materials, declined to comment.
“That is a very significant vote,” Murphy said. “There usually are only a handful of ESG proposals that receive a majority,” she said, referring to environmental, social and governance topics.
The J.B. Hunt proposal was the only one focusing on LGBT protections on a U.S. proxy ballot this season, according to ISS Voting Analytics. Five similar measures were withdrawn after the companies voluntarily adopted protective language, ISS said.
Majority support for shareholder proposals addressing environmental and social topics is unusual, said Edward Kamonjoh, head of U.S. strategic research analysis and studies at ISS, which had recommended that holders vote in favor of the measure. Only one proposal received majority support last year and two this year before the J.B Hunt proposal.
“Proposals calling for LGBT-friendly workforce policies have received some of the highest levels of average support” in the ESG category, he added.
United Parcel Service Inc. and Fedex Corp. both have language in their employee materials saying they prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to Human Rights Campaign. J.B. Hunt is the third-largest trucking company after those two, according to Transport Topics, a trade publication.
--with assistance from Jeff Green