In April, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Jay Clayton and William Hinman, Director of the Division of Corporate Finance, recommended that companies “provide as much information as is practicable” about how they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to investors and the public.
While this was a positive first step, investors need consistent and comprehensive information about the specific measures companies are taking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect public health and safety.
Accordingly, Green Century, in conjunction with other institutional investors and organizations, recently asked the SEC to require specific disclosure from companies concerning how the pandemic is affecting their business, human capital management practices, and supply chains.
Specifically, we requested that the SEC require disclosures regarding:
• Workplace COVID-19 prevention and control plans – Companies should disclose a written infectious disease prevention and control plan including information such as the company’s practices regarding hazard identification and assessment, employee training, and provision of personal protective equipment.
• Financial implications – Companies should disclose the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their cash flows and balance sheet as well as steps they are taking to maintain liquidity.
• Health insurance – Companies should disclose the health insurance coverage ratio of their workforce and whether the company has a policy to provide employer-paid health insurance for any employees who are laid off during the pandemic.
• Supply chains – Companies should disclose whether they are current on payments to their supply chain vendors. Timely and prompt payments to suppliers will help retain suppliers’ workforces and ensure that a stable supply chain is in place for business operations going forward.
Investors have a right to know how companies are responding to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. By requiring these disclosures, the SEC also may help some companies discern that their current practices are insufficient to protect their workers, consumers, supply chains, and investors.
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Stocks will fluctuate in response to factors that may affect a single company, industry, sector, country, region or the market as a whole and may perform worse than the market. Foreign securities are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, regional economic or political conditions, differences in accounting methods, and other unique risks compared to investing in securities of U.S. issuers. Bonds are subject to risks including interest rate, credit, and inflation. A sustainable investment strategy which incorporates environmental, social and governance criteria may result in lower or higher returns than an investment strategy that does not include such criteria.
This information has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable. The views expressed are as of the date of this writing and are those of the Advisor to the Funds.
The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. 7/20