Institution Theme Category Industry
  • Vanguard
  • Social
  • Social & Human Capital
  • Industrial
Company Year Market Link
Fastenal Co. 2020 N/A https://about.vanguard.com/investment-stewardship/perspectives-and-commentary/2020_investment_stewardship_annual_report.pdf

During the proxy year, we evaluated a shareholder proposal at Fastenal, a U.S. industrial supply distributor, that sought disclosure of the company’s workforce diversity metrics, including gender, race, and ethnicity. The same proposal at the 2019 annual meeting received 41% support, demonstrating its importance to shareholders.
In our 2019 engagement, the company shared concerns that providing employees’ self-reported data without sufficient context would misrepresent its workforce. Given Fastenal’s resistance to disclosing the specific metrics the proponent requested, we strongly encouraged the company to disclose workforce diversity information using industry recognized frameworks, such as the SASB standards. In response to the 2019 vote, the company added a webpage dedicated to corporate social responsibility. The page shared one data point highlighting the growth in female and minority representation in Fastenal’s workforce. We were disappointed in this limited disclosure that did not address the spirit of shareholder feedback.
We engaged with company leaders again this year to try to understand how their perspective had evolved since the 2019 vote. The company reiterated its view that diversity data could be misinterpreted. While we appreciate that standardized data cannot capture all nuances related to a company’s practices, we do not believe this is a reason to withhold information altogether. We emphasized in our engagement that we wanted to see improved disclosure to the market, with both quantitative and qualitative information that is relevant and decision-useful for investors. The proposal would not limit the company’s ability to contextualize the data.
To comply with federal regulations, the company already collects and reports the requested information on employee gender, race, and ethnicity in the EEO-1 Survey, a report that employers must file with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This survey is one way of disclosing high-quality diversity statistics and is more specific than our original feedback. Given the lack of responsiveness and a clear gap in robust quantitative disclosure of material risk, we felt our support of this format was appropriate.
The Vanguard funds supported the shareholder proposal. We did not think the company’s existing disclosure sufficiently addressed workforce diversity, nor had our engagement led to meaningful progress. In analyzing the proposal, we determined that the shareholder’s request was reasonable, as the company was already collecting EEO-1 data. The proposal passed, and our expectation is that the company will put shareholder feedback into action.

Details

  • Proponent
  • Shareholder
  • Resolution
  • Report on workforce diversity
  • Vote
  • For
  • Rationale
  • N/A
  • Details
  • N/A