Colorful Rally Confronts Procter and Gamble’s Annual Shareholders Meeting 

Large coalition brings grievances over forest destruction and rights abuses to P&G HQ in effort to raise investor awareness on risks of investing in P&G

Cincinnati – Today, dozens of climate and human rights advocates gathered at 1 Procter and Gamble Plaza during the company’s annual shareholders meeting to express growing frustration over the consumer giant’s failure to adequately address its well documented role in driving deforestation and Indigenous rights violations. The rally, titled ‘Forests and People Will Win! Solidarity Rally with Forest Defenders from Indonesia to the Boreal,’ occurs just days after multiple protestors were arrested deploying a massive banner off Cincinnati’s iconic Roebling Suspension Bridge calling on P&G to ‘Stop Forest Destruction.’

Procter and Gamble is the largest consumer goods company in the world, and its annual shareholder meetings have become flashpoints of controversy in recent years. A broad, international coalition of stakeholders, including local Cincinnati organizers, Indigenous leaders from communities impacted by the operations of P&G’s suppliers and business partners, descendents of both the Procter and Gamble founding families and representatives of conservation and human rights organizations have traveled to the company’s headquarters to speak out against P&G’s continued refusal to take the actions necessary to end its role in driving climate chaos, deforestation and rights violations. P&G has made numerous corporate commitments to end deforestation and protect human and worker rights in its supply chain, but activists say its new policy released in advance of the AGM has major loopholes and it is failing to make good on its word. 

Procter & Gamble, the maker of well-known brands like Tide, Head & Shoulders, Olay and Crest, knowingly sources the ingredients for its products from suppliers that are complicit in destroying critical forests and the livelihoods of Indigenous communities. Among many examples, a Rainforest Action Network (RAN) investigation called the Carbon Bomb Scandals implicated Procter & Gamble (P&G) in illegal palm oil development in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem, in an area known as the “orangutan capital of the world.” Though P&G publicly committed to work with its suppliers to restore illegal palm oil plantations, an increase in deforestation in this globally important conservation area has recently been documented.  

“We are here today to make it loud and clear that we are not going away until the decision makers at Procter and Gamble do the right thing and cut their ties with business partners who are destroying our world’s last forests and violating the rights of Indigenous peoples,” said Laurel Sutherlin with Rainforest Action Network. “When it comes to following through on commitments to basic corporate responsibility, P&G remains a laggard falling even further behind its peers. There is no excuse for P&G not to create the transparency and traceability required to guarantee its customers that its products are no longer driving the climate crisis and human rights abuses.”

Ahead of this year’s shareholders meeting, descendants of the founders of both the Procter & Gamble founding families are urging their fellow shareholders to vote against current members of the board of directors, ‘due to the company’s failure to address unsustainable sourcing of wood pulp and palm oil from climate-critical forests in the Canadian boreal and southeast Asia.’ Environmental advocacy organizations NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Rainforest Action Network, and  Friends of the Earth US all support the recommendation. 

“As a Cincinnati resident, I have felt ashamed that our hometown company is responsible for so much destruction and conflict around the world,” said Midavi Hayden, a Cincinnati resident and activist. “Today I feel really proud of our local community for coming out once again to stand in solidarity with communities around the world impacted by decisonmakers taking part in P&G’s shareholders meeting right now.” 

In Indonesia, one of P&G’s largest palm oil suppliers is the palm oil arm of the notorious Royal Golden Eagle group. Many Batak communities in North Sumatra, Indonesia –– including the Indigenous Batak community of Pargamanan-Bintang Maria –– are fighting to get their lands recognized and against a RGE company named PT. Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) for decades, working to save their land from further destruction and for their legal land rights to be recognized in the face of constant threats. 

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Rainforest Action Network, and Friends of the Earth US have issued a detailed briefer alerting investors of the risks associated with Procter & Gamble due to its inaction on addressing the concerns raised by its shareholders.