Northwest & Ethical Investments LP (Northwest & Ethical) filed a resolution with Barrick Gold asking the company to nominate a director with experience in corporate responsibility, environment or human rights and community engagement issues.
According to Northwest & Ethical, Barrick “has agreed to recruit a recognized authority in these fields. This new independent director will sit on the Environment, Health & Safety Committee of the Board.” In response to this commitment, Northwest & Ethical withdrew its proposal.
This shareholder initiated-dialogue delivers a significant future benefit to Barrick shareholders. For years, the company has faced criticism about its handling of mine waste and approach to community relations. Barrick is currently lacking the board-level expertise required to effectively address these and other related issues.
Northwest & Ethical’s effort has significance beyond Barrick. Using the proposal mechanism, a shareholder has prompted a Canadian company to add a director with specific expertise to its board. For shareholders that do not treat director elections as routine clerical exercises, and find significant room for improvement in board composition at many companies, Northwest & Ethical has blazed an important trail for future dialogue.