Dutch pension fund PGGM NV has become the latest European pension fund to blacklist Walmart. It announced last week that it would end its investment in the company because of Walmart’s poor labor practices and the Board of Directors’ unwillingness to “participate in fruitful dialogues with [Walmart] shareholders.”
This was not a decision that PGGM came to quickly. The asset manager, which held nearly three million Walmart shares, had long sought to engage Walmart around its labor practices, joining with other European funds in a five-year effort to encourage Walmart to adopt the International Labor Organization’s basic workplace standards. More recently, it had brought up concerns about increasing labor unrest in the company’s U.S. stores. PGGM said that the retail giant was “not prepared” to seriously address the issues PGGM raised. Since 2012, PGGM reportedly had also made repeated efforts to get answers to its questions about the alleged bribery scandal in Walmart’s Mexican subsidiary but never received a response from the company.
A senior advisor for PGGM told Reuters that the fund was troubled by apparently inadequate leadership on the part of Walmart’s Board of Directors: “We were very concerned that there wasn’t sufficient oversight from the board. It left Walmart operating on the edges of the law.”
Another fund, Mn Services, said last week that it, too, would stop investing in Walmart. PGGM and Mn Services join Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, the largest Dutch pension fund, and Norway’s government pension fund in blacklisting Walmart.
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