Whatever one may think about the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and its penchant for making headlines, more NGOs may want to consider the latest tactic employed by the animal rights group.
Last week the Canadian luxury outfitter and retailer Canada Goose celebrated its IPO after 60 years in business. And it turns out one of its first investors is PETA.
Granted, PETA's ownership in the company is microscopic. The organization said it purchased about 230 shares on the first day the company went public – about $4,000 worth of Canada Goose’s equity. It said it bought the stock in order to speak at annual shareholder meetings and, more importantly, to submit shareholder resolutions.
PETA says ownership in Canada Goose is important in order to convince the company to eliminate what activists say is needless animal cruelty.
Business Insider suggested that PETA lost about $250 after the first day of Canada Goose’s stock trading. But that will hardly discourage the organization, which objects to the outdoor apparel company’s use of goose down and coyote fur in its products.
“PETA is calling on consumers to reject Canada Goose’s cruelty to coyotes and geese and to invest in kindness by buying vegan clothing instead,” Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a public statement describing the group’s embrace of shareholder activism.
PETA’s playbook follows the lead of the Humane Society, one of the leading animal welfare organizations in the U.S.
A few years ago, the D.C.-based NGO leveraged its 750 shares of Tysons Food stock to reduce the suffering of livestock animals within the company's supply chain. The Humane Society worked with the Methodist Church and an ethical investments firm to introduce a shareholder proposal to request that Tyson cease the use of sow gestation crates. Months later, the company (and one of its largest competitors, Smithfield Foods) urged its pork suppliers to find another way to house their hogs.
Religious orders, including the famous Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, have long used stock purchases to influence corporate policies through the power of shareholder resolutions. Long an irritant to many public company executives and directors, the Sisters of St. Francis most recent quest was the filing of proposals ahead of Wells Fargo’s annual shareholders meeting. The order’s nuns asked for more accountability from the company after a year of scandals rocked the bank, from allegedly bending military laws to the 2 million “fake accounts” fiasco.
These sisters are not shy about taking on climate action, either. Emboldened by Pope Francis’ aggressive stance on climate change, the nuns also helped draft shareholder proposals at Chevron’s and ExxonMobil’s annual meetings. Those proposals lost after the proxy votes were counted – and such proposals usually do, overwhelmingly – but for organizations ranging from the Sisters of St. Francis to PETA, launching such tactics is more about the long-term need to raise awareness and fight for what they believe is right.
As of press time, Canada Goose has not responded to PETA’s chess move. But this is not the first time the company and the animal rights group have clashed.
PETA jeered several years ago when then-member of parliament Justin Trudeau, who now serves as Canada's prime minister, sent out a Christmas card showing his family in fur-lined Canada Goose garb, resulting in a debate over the ethics and sustainability of fur.
Image credit: Canada Goose
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media. His previous work can be found at The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.