COMCAST CORPORATION | Sexual Harrassment

AGM date
Previous AGM date
Proposal number
7
Resolution details
Company ticker
CMCSA
Lead filer
Resolution ask
Report on or disclose
ESG theme
  • Social
ESG sub-theme
  • Human rights & inequality
  • Labour standards
Company sector
Consumer Discretionary
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
Shareholders urge the Board of Directors to release a transparency report (at reasonable expense, omitting confidential or privileged information) to shareholders assessing the effectiveness of the company’s workplace sexual harassment policies, including the results of a comprehensive, independent audit/investigation, analysis of policies and practices, and commitments to create a safe, inclusive work environment.
Whereas clause
Comcast and its subsidiaries are under intense public scrutiny for an alleged failure to protect employees from sexual harassment, hold those culpable accountable, and report transparently. NBC attracted global attention when it fired Today host Matt Lauer for ongoing workplace sexual harassment. In 2019, Ronan Farrow alleged Comcast covered up accusations against Lauer. NBC News’ digital editorial staff formed a union soon after, noting serious questions about the company’s treatment of women and people of color, management of workplace sexual misconduct, and opaque procedures for exposing powerful predators. Failure to provide a safe workplace extends to Comcast call centers, where employees described a hostile culture of sexual harassment. In 2018, Comcast fired three call center employees who filed complaints. Fear of retaliation in reporting harassment is of concern. A U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission study found that 75 percent of employees reporting harassment experienced retaliation and 87 to 94 percent of harassment victims did not file complaints. Controversy has focused on NBC’s insistence on conducting an internal investigation led by management, rather than independent advisors. The Council of Institutional Investors states best practice sexual harassment investigation should involve non-conflicted outside firms. Six 2020 presidential candidates called on the Democratic National Committee to demand Comcast conduct an independent investigation into its toxic culture. Workplace harassment can result in higher turnover, lower productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher sick leave costs, harming shareholder value. A recent academic study found companies with the highest incidences of sexual harassment underperform the U.S. stock market by 19.9 percent the subsequent year. Companies that experienced a high number of allegations also saw a decline in Return on Equity of 10.9 percent, and labor costs rose 7 percent. A Harvard Business Review study found a single sexual harassment claim can make a company seem less equitable and would be enough to dramatically shape public perception of a company and elicit perceptions of structural unfairness. While Comcast has conducted prior investigations into sexual harassment allegations, it has failed to report transparently on any independent investigation to employees and investors. To avoid legal and reputational risk and maintain shareholder value, Comcast must create a culture of accountability and transparency, protecting employees from harassment and discrimination.
Supporting statement
Proponents suggest the report be published annually and summarize: • Effectiveness of sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies, trainings, and measures • Results of any independent investigation into employee or executive level allegations • Steps taken (or that could be taken) to hold employees and executives accountable • Number of sexual harassment cases investigated and the resolution

How other organisations have declared their voting intentions

Organisation name Declared voting intentions Rationale
Kutxabank Gestion SGIIC SAU. For