For Immediate Release - December 10, 2013

Grossman Joins Effort To Push Olympic Sponsors On Russian Civil Rights For LBGT Community

Uses Position to Encourage Corporate Responsibility on Issue

          Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman today joined a growing chorus of voices in the investment community that are calling on large corporate sponsors of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia to speak out against laws in that country that discriminate against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

          “As investors, we must do everything within our power to send a clear message that discrimination and denial of fundamental human freedoms will not be tolerated,” said Grossman, who is also the chair of the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board.  “Our relentless effort to promote human respect and dignity cannot stop at our country’s borders, and we need to call the Russian government out on its wrongheaded approach toward basic freedoms.”

          In calling on the major Olympic sponsors speak out, Grossman joins an effort spearheaded by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to knit together large institutional investors to collectively advocate for changes in Russian law governing the treatment of the LGBT community.   The group has noted that Russia recently enacted new laws restricting the rights of LGBT citizens further still in relation to free speech and freedom to assemble.

Specifically, the group of investors is calling on the sponsors to:    

  •           Ensure that their nondiscrimination policies are strong, inclusive and globally enforced, particularly in Russia.
  •           Urge the leaders of the Russian Federation to rescind laws that deprive members of Russia’s LGBT community
              of their fundamental rights and declare their commitment to equality.
  •           Encourage the International Olympic Committee to obtain firm commitments from the Russian government that 
             ensure the safety and human rights of all athletes and attendees of the Winter Games.

          Grossman said that the profitability of a company and value of its stock is closely tied to its brand and reputation.  He maintained that this value can be protected and enhanced when a company is seen as a responsible corporate citizen on matters such as equal treatment for all.

          PRIM presently has $56.9 million of funds under management.  Among the major sponsors that the group called on to speak out on the issue are Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, McDonald’s, Panasonic and Visa.