At the Kroger Company’s Annual General Meeting of shareholders June 22, Lisa Lindsley, Capital Markets Advisor for SumOfUs, an international corporate watchdog, will present a shareholder resolution calling for the separation of the role of CEO and Chair of the Board, to create an independent Board Chair. Kroger CEOs have held the role of Board Chair for several decades.
“We believe that independent board leadership would be a constructive move for Kroger, especially when it comes to environmental sustainability issues.
Kroger continues to risk its reputation by selling produce treated with neonicotinoids (aka neonics), a group of insecticides highly toxic to bees,” explained Lisa Lindsley, Capital Markets Advisor for SumOfus. “It’s up to shareholders to ensure that Kroger’s sourcing policies don’t alienate customers. As Kroger’s competitors eliminate neonics, their company could be at a competitive disadvantage. Kroger could make more objective decisions by appointing an independent board chair, which is why we’re urging shareholders to support this corporate governance best practice.”
“Kroger’s bottom line will suffer if doesn’t take steps to address its contribution to the bee crisis,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “From the produce section to the dairy aisle, food sold at top U.S. food retailers is produced with pollinator-toxic pesticides and polling shows the majority of consumers believe grocery stores should eliminate these harmful pesticides. We urge Kroger shareholders to ensure the company works with its supply chain to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides to protect pollinators, people and the planet.”
This past year, Kroger competitors Wal-mart (NYSE: WMT), Costco and Whole Foods chose to eliminate neonicotinoids from their stores, joining more than 110 retailers nationwide. Hardware stores like Home Depot, True Value and Lowe’s also made similar commitments following an ongoing campaign by SumOfUs, Friends of the Earth and allies.
According to a 2016 YouGov poll, 73 percent of Americans who grocery shop for their household believe it is important for grocery stores to sell food grown without neonics; 65 percent would be more likely to shop at a grocery store that has formally committed to eliminating neonicotinoids instead of their usual grocery.
Individual investors who are members of SumOfUs and investors in The Kroger Company support the resolution calling for the separation of the roles of CEO and Board Chair, and the creation of an independent chair of the Board.