Attention Home Depot shoppers: A group of 14 institutional investors in Home Depot has sponsored a shareholder’s resolution to be considered at the company’s 1998 Annual Meeting that asks the company to disclose the last five year’s worth of demographic data about its workforce, as already submitted to the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. The resolution also asks Home Depot to report on its programs designed to increase diversity at all levels of the corporation, and to disclose any pending sex, race or disability discrimination lawsuits against Home Depot. The purpose of the resolution is to help shareholders determine the financial risk facing the company from discrimination suits. The resolution’s sponsors, which include the Calvert Group, United States Trust Company of Boston, Franklin Research & Development, the Service Employee’s International Union National Industry Pension Fund, the General Board of Pension & Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches of Christ, and others, control $35 million worth of Home Depot stock. These shareholders want Home Depot to adhere to a higher level of accountability on the issue of workforce diversity. Home Depot recently settled a $104 million sex discrimination lawsuit for $104 million that involved 17,000 current and former employees in 100 stores in the Western States, and 22,000 women employees in over 300 stores east of the Mississippi. “As investors,” said one shareholder group, “we believe that the required information is crucial to our assessment of the potential financial liabilities facing Home Depot, as well as its workforce diversity progress and problems.” Home Depot is apparently unwilling to release the workforce data, saying it will lead to “baseloess legal action” against the company. The shareholder’s say that “negative publicity against Home Depot could alienate a signficant portion of its customer base, particularly women, who comprise half of the shopper’s at our company’s store.”
The next time you find yourself in a Home Depot, ask the clerk at the register if Home Depot still sells glass ceilings…For further information on the shareholder’s resolution on diversity, contact Shelley Alpern at Franklin Research (817) 423-6655 x. 248, or Nikki Daruwala, Calvert Group, (301) 657-7061.