As I reflect on my first two years as Trillium’s CEO, I am gratified by the support of our clients and proud of what our Trillium team has achieved. In particular, we are continuing to build on three key themes at the heart of our company: a commitment to employee empowerment, a focus on impact through advocacy, and a longterm goal of transforming capital markets. Let me give you a quick update in each of these areas.
First, on employee empowerment. Our founder Joan Bavaria started Trillium with the belief that we should create a “work environment that encourages personal development and growth, and in which ownership, responsibilities and rewards are broadly shared.”
On July 1, Trillium converted its corporate structure from a “C” corporation to a partnership, completing our journey to a fully independent, employee owned firm. Trillium was able to begin this conversion after we bought back a stake held by Wainwright Bank in December 2010, one of my first priorities as CEO. The transition to an LLC structure has allowed us to broaden employee ownership – now, nearly 90 percent of Trillium employees own stock in the firm, the highest ever.
Next, on advocacy. We continue to innovate in our advocacy work, feeling a need to work even harder in response to the paralysis in Washington.
In the wake of the January 2010 Citizens United decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations can spend an unlimited amount of money to influence elections, informed and involved ownership has never been more important. Using shareholder resolutions and dialogue, Trillium partnered with other concerned investors and the Center for Political Accountability to press Target, Best Buy, Pentair and other companies to strengthen their disclosure and oversight of political expenditures. Trillium will continue to press companies for transparency and positive action on these and other environmental, social, and governance issues. (See an overview of our recent advocacy wins in this month’s cover story.)
Finally, we continue to make progress on our ambitious goal of transforming capital markets, both through our own work and in collaboration with others. As you’ll read, our Sustainability Opportunities product turned three. By investing in innovative companies providing answers to sustainability challenges, we are helping to direct capital to companies moving ahead of the curve. In the autumn of 2009, I was proud to represent Trillium as a founding member of Slow Money, an organization which is working to “accelerate the transition from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on preservation and restoration.” This organization continues to have a profound impact by bringing like minded investors together in the aim of building a community to change capital markets. I will be speaking at third annual Slow Money Gathering which is taking place in San Francisco on October 12–14 and hope to see you there.
So after two eventful years, I look back on our progress and truly believe we have never been better positioned to live up our goal of combining performance and impact for our clients. I hope you agree.