In 1970 a group of Washington lawyers sponsored by Ralph Nader took on General Motors and inaugurated the consumer movement for corporate social responsibility.
Campaign GM has fought two rounds and been KO'd twice. Harvard both times has refused to support the group's proposals on the proxy statement.
Two years ago Campaign GM introduced two resolutions. The first provided for the creation of an independent shareholders' committee to investigate GM's policies concerning auto safety, pollution, mass transit and minority hiring. The second would have expanded the GM Board to include three consumer representatives. Harvard voted against them both.
Campaign GM last spring issued a new set of resolutions. The first would have empowered shareholders to nominate on the ballot candidates for the Board of Directors. The second would have expanded the Board to include three directors nominated by constituent groups of dealers, employees and consumers. The third would have required General Motors to publish information on its policies concerning auto safety, pollution control and minority hiring.
Harvard voted against the first two and abstained on the third. In a proxy battle, abstention is tantamount to a vote for management.
What will Campaign GM's resolutions be this year? How will Harvard vote? Tune in and see. Harvard possesses 288,160 GM shares and an enormous reputation. The questions are more than academic.