Calvert has won support among 8% of shareholders at Hewlett Packard for a resolution encouraging the company to improve its policies on computer waste. Calvert believes that last Fridays vote was the first of its kind, and is pushing similar measures at five other computer manufacturers.
Owners of 92.5 million shares agreed that HP should consider strengthening its computer recycling programs and assess how the impending merger with Compaq will affect its computer waste strategies. Although Calvert advocates a socially conscious agenda, its reasons for supporting the computer disposal measure are also founded in the balance sheet, said Julie Frieder, an environment analyst at Calvert
"This is not just an environmental issue; it is a matter of strategic importance. Computer producers already face regulations in Europe, Japan and in several states in this country," Frieder said. The firm owned 21,531 shares of Hewlett Packard at the time of the meeting.
While Calvert garnered the support of less than 10% of shareholders, even that may be enough to influence policies at HP. A vote of only 5.2% at Coca-Cola spurred the company to announce a goal for recycled content in plastic bottles, said Conrad MacKerron, director of the Corporate Social Responsibility Program at As You Sow, a San Francisco-based foundation.
According to Calvert spokeswoman Elizabeth Laurienzo, the firm has proposed 27 resolutions this season. Some have met with similar success. Some have been withdrawn prior to a shareholder meeting because of adequate company response. And some have been disallowed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.