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May 27, 2013

DiNapoli Reaches Agreement With Ralph Lauren to Report on
Labor Practices, Environmental Impacts

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced an agreement with Ralph Lauren, a New York-based global apparel retailer, for the company to produce a report measuring and analyzing its labor practices, human rights and environmental impacts. As a result of the agreement, DiNapoli has withdrawn his shareholder resolution filed with the company.

“Ralph Lauren deserves praise for taking a step toward limiting shareholder risk by beginning to measure the impact of their business practices on their work force and the environment,” DiNapoli said. “Over the past few years, the New York State Common Retirement Fund has made it a priority to engage with portfolio companies on labor practices and human rights. There is no daylight between protecting shareholder value and promoting practices that can protect workers’ rights and save lives.”

The withdrawn shareholder resolution at Ralph Lauren requested that the board of directors issue a sustainability report to shareholders that should include a company-wide review of corporate policies, practices, and metrics related to long-term social and environmental sustainability. The Fund’s resolution recommended that the reporting be guided by the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, which provide a flexible reporting system for companies to disclose their environmental impacts, labor practices, human rights, product responsibility and community impacts. Ralph Lauren agreed to post the report on its website when it files its annual report in May 2014.

DiNapoli, the trustee of New York’s $160.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, has filed resolutions and reached agreements with several portfolio companies to improve their reporting and implementation of sustainability reports, publicly released audits of corporate social, environmental and labor practices and impacts. These reports aid companies in managing potential loss of shareholder value, as well as mitigating reputational risk, through improved monitoring and reporting practices.

In 2010, the Common Retirement Fund, in concert with other signatories of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, wrote letters to selected apparel and consumer durables companies asking them to call on their overseas suppliers to implement the core labor rights standards of the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) and to allow independent monitoring of their compliance.

In 2013, DiNapoli reached agreements with Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond to encourage their suppliers to create sustainability reports as well as with Xerox to post the sustainability reports of its three largest suppliers on its website. In 2012, Leggett & Platt, a leading manufacturer of furniture and bedding, reached agreement with DiNapoli to create a Supplier Code of Conduct which provided a uniform code of conduct throughout its world-wide supply chain. The code became part of the company’s standard contract terms and conditions. In 2011, DiNapoli reached agreement with Mohawk Industries, a leading supplier of flooring, to adopt a labor code of conduct for its suppliers.


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