Top Stories

August 23, 2022


Ceres calls on world’s largest investors to respond to water crisis

Sustainability investment group Ceres has launched a new effort to mobilise 72 of the world’s largest companies to tackle water-related financial risks and drive large-scale reforms to protect global water systems. Ceres described the ‘Valuing Water Finance Initiative’ as the only global investor-led initiative aimed at moving companies to respond to the global water crisis. Ceres added the initiative will offer comprehensive guidelines for investors to manage the “full suite” of water-related risks, including water availability and quality, board oversight and public policy engagement. Ceres’ initiative is targeting investors from drinks brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Diageo, leading consumer goods firms Nestlé, Unilever and Kellogg’s, and fashion giants including Burberry and Levi’s.. Ceres’ initiative also aims to equip investors with the tools required to “make the case” for prioritising water risk. (Business Green)*


Ben & Jerry’s loses attempt to block ice cream sales in West Bank

Ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s has lost an attempt to Unilever from selling its brand to a local licensee in Israel, as the two companies clash over sales in occupied Palestinian territories. A US District Judge denied Ben & Jerry’s request for an injunction that sought to halt ice cream sales and marketing  in the West Bank. During a court hearing, Ben & Jerry’s argued its social mission could be undermined if an injunction was not granted. The brand also argued that licensees in Israel could use intellectual property and make products that contradict Ben & Jerry’s social stances, confusing consumers. The judge rejected claims that Ben & Jerry’s would face reputational harm. Earlier negotiations saw Unilever halt remuneration of Ben & Jerry’s independent board. (Financial Times)*


Walmart expands abortion coverage for its 1.6m US employees

Retail giant Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, is expanding abortion and travel coverage for employees, two months after the Supreme Court overturned ‘Roe v. Wade’ that had legalised the procedure nationwide. In a memo to its 1.6 million US employees, the retailer said its self-insured healthcare plans will now cover abortion “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability.” Company employees and their family members will also have their travel costs paid for if they cannot access a covered legal abortion within 100 miles of their location. A host of other companies including JPMorgan Chase, Amazon and Walt Disney have also expanded their insurance policies to offer travel benefits to US employees who may need to access out-of-state abortion services. (Reuters)


Goldman Sachs’ long-running gender bias lawsuit set for June 2023

A US federal judge has rejected investment bank Goldman Sachs’ bid to dismiss most of a 12-year-old class action alleging widespread bias against women in pay and promotions. The case is expected to go to trial in June 2023. The judge disagreed with Goldman’s argument that the class of about 1,800 plaintiffs should be decertified because there was no proof that each member had lost pay to seek damages. The judge narrowed the damages class to include female vice presidents and associates employed at various times since 2002 in Goldman's investment banking, investment management and securities divisions. The plaintiffs accused Goldman of systematically paying women less than men, and giving women weaker performance reviews that impeded their career growth. The lawsuit is among the highest-profile cases targeting Wall Street’s alleged unequal treatment of women. (Reuters)


Apple workers launch petition over firm’s return-to-office stance

Employees at technology company Apple have hit back against the company’s return-to-office orders, and launched a petition saying the firm risked stifling diversity and staff wellbeing by restricting remote working. The petition is in response to an all-employee memo from Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, who said workers would have to come into the office for at least three days a week from September. The plan is already looser than previous proposals that stipulated specific days for employees to be in the office. However, a group of workers who operate under the name ‘Apple Together’ have circulated a petition pushing back against Cook’s orders, saying greater flexibility would promote diversity within the company. Apple Together reportedly intends to collect signatures before sending them to the company’s executives. (The Guardian)

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