Press Release: GBPHB Board of Directors Approves Investment Resolution
March 7, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: M. Colette Nies, Managing Director, Communications
(847) 866-4296 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenview, IL—The board of directors of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of The United Methodist Church (GBPHB) today announced the approval of a resolution regarding investing in securities of certain companies doing business in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The full text of the resolution is attached.
On March 2, 2012, GBPHB unanimously approved the resolution presenting the board’s overall position on General Conference 2012 petitions directing that all United Methodist general boards and agencies immediately divest securities held in Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard. These companies (among others) supply products that the petition sponsors have stated are used by the Israeli government to violate the human rights of Palestinians.
In keeping with its prior investment position and the approach taken in previous board actions, the board evaluated extensive information received from voices within the UMC dedicated to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The board reviewed information provided by the UM Kairos Response, reviewed and concurred with the report of the UMC Socially Responsible Investment Task Force (established by General Conference 2008), and reviewed and prayerfully considered the directives of The Book of Discipline for discharging its fiduciary role in establishing and implementing investment policy and managing investment funds. The board resolved that the values shared as a denomination must continue to be reflected in its stewardship of the Church’s financial resources, as The Book of Resolutions states, “…every financial investment has ethical dimensions with consequences that are both fiscal and social.”
GBPHB’s board of directors affirmed the decision of its Fiduciary and UMC Principles Committees to retain the securities of Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions, and that GBPHB staff will continue to urge these companies to protect and respect human rights, and to continue to seek a remedy for any human rights violations including, but not limited to, Palestine.
Mr. Tim Smith, a member of the board of directors’ UMC Principles Committee and an executive at Walden Asset Management, an investment firm active in shareholder advocacy, represented the board’s viewpoint: “The board of directors strongly believes that divesting of stock in a company where you have a dispute is not an effective tool to impact a company’s policy or practices. If you sell stock as a protest, another investor simply purchases it. As an investor, having a seat at the table with a company has generally proved to be a more powerful means of communicating with a company’s management.”
GBPHB’s board of directors continues to commend the work of faithful United Methodists to bring about a lasting peace in the Middle East and continues to pray for an end to human rights abuses throughout the world. The GBPHB board of directors’ resolution summarizes the rationale, evaluative process of the board committees, and the ongoing actions with the targeted companies in which GBPHB invests.
About the General Board
The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits is a not-for-profit administrative agency of The United Methodist Church, responsible for the general supervision and administration of the retirement, health and welfare benefit plans, programs and funds for more than 74,000 clergy and lay employees of the Church.
The General Board is the largest faith-based pension fund in the United States and ranks among the top 100 pension funds in the country. As a socially responsible investor, the General Board is actively involved in shareholder advocacy, proxy voting, portfolio screening and community investing.