In an editorial today, the San Francisco Chronicle applauded Stanford University’s recent approval of a proxy voting guideline that may cause electronics companies to become more transparent about the presence of minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in electronics products. In the editorial, the newspaper recognized Stanford STAND’s campaign as a catalyst for the Board of Trustees’ approval of the proxy voting guideline:
Stanford University has taken the lead, thanks to its engaged and informed students. The university’s board of trustees recently approved a new proxy voting guideline for the university’s investments. The guideline would support any shareholder efforts to make companies account for the supply chain of minerals used in their products.
"It’s a reasonable request that the university can actually commit to with the amount of information that’s actually available about conflict minerals," said Mia Newman, a junior at Stanford and the incoming co-president of student group Students Taking Action Now for Darfur [sic], which raised the conflict minerals issue with the university. "The real power of the statement lies in the fact that no other institution or university has, to our knowledge, made any kind of statement about conflict minerals before."
The editorial also called on electronics companies in the Silicon Valley, many of whom have close ties to the university, to revise their corporate responsibility practices to restrict the impact of company activities on violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Now it’s up to Silicon Valley’s many technology companies to pay attention. The technology industry has been late to engage in politics and larger global issues, but this one is tailor-made for its attention.
Through their buying decisions, Silicon Valley companies could help to curb human rights abuses. Plus, there’s a technological problem to be solved: How can we create transparency in the mineral supply chain? Surely the Silicon Valley brain trust could work to solve this.