Due to a shareholder action coordinated by Investors Against Genocide, millions of customers of Vanguard, an investment management company, now have the opportunity to vote on whether they want their personal savings to be invested in companies that substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity. Vanguard shareholders need to speak loudly with their vote to prevent their money from being used to fund mass violence.
For those who haven’t invested with Vanguard, encourage your friends and family who are Vanguard customers to watch for their ballots and cast this important vote to help end the suffering in Darfur. This “get out the vote” effort is critical, regardless of whether you’re a Vanguard investor – many shareholders won’t bother to vote unless we inform them of the significance.
Vanguard’s SEC filing confirmed that the genocide-free investing proposal will be on the proxy ballot of 30 of its funds. The filing states the combined net assets of those funds as $597 billion. Proxy ballots are being sent this week, and votes can be cast or re-cast up until the special shareholder meeting on July 2.
Voting is easy: For Vanguard customers, your ballot will arrive in your mailbox or inbox. Question 3 is the important one: A vote FOR Question 3 indicates that you don’t want your family’s savings invested in companies that help to carry out genocide and crimes against humanity.
However, voters may be confused by Vanguard’s statement of opposition, which tells its customers that there is no need to vote for Question 3 because Vanguard already has in place a policy which is "substantially identical."
Vanguard’s recent track record and statements do not support that claim. The company’s SEC filing on March 31 showed that, in the most recent quarter reported, the company increased its holdings of PetroChina (NYSE: PTR) and the other large oil industry partners of the government of Sudan that help fund the genocide in Darfur. Further, in an interview with Bloomberg News, Vanguard spokesperson John Woerth said that no Vanguard fund had yet divested a holding because of concerns about rights abuses.
For the millions of Americans who are Vanguard customers and do not want their savings or pension funds connected to genocide, Vanguard provides no evidence of positive action and no transparency regarding its approach.
"We urge Vanguard customers to check their mail and email for these proxy materials," states Eric Cohen, chairperson of Investors Against Genocide. “We hope that shareholders of the 30 funds will carefully read Question 3 on their ballots and vote according to their conscience on this important issue."
Voting will remain open until the shareholders’ meeting on July 2. If you’ve lost the proxy or have already voted and want to change your vote, contact Vanguard at 1-800-822-8978.
Please get out the vote among your friends and family. Even if you aren’t a Vanguard customer, you can send Vanguard an email, asking them to drop their opposition to Question 3 and to make a commitment to genocide-free investing.