Big banks + teachers' fund named
We recently wrote to some of porn giant Playboy's shareholders to ask them to divest from the global porn empire.
Our list of investors included household names like Bank of America, Royal Bank of Canada, Vanguard and JP Morgan.
The world's largest educator-only pension fund - California State Teachers' Retirement System - was even on our list! Why a fund whose primary customers are supposed to be concerned with the education and well-being of children wouldn't exclude a company with a 70-year history of profiting from the sexual exploitation and abuse of children from its investment portfolio is beyond us.
Will Christopher be explaining how CalSTRS’ own investments in a global porn empire with a 70 year history of profiting from exploitation + abuse of women and girls (PLBY Group) satisfy its ESG/responsible investment claims and commitments?— LSKennedy (@LSKennedy5) September 15, 2022
These companies even claim to be committed to the United Nations-backed Principles of Responsible Investment.
In our letter we said that Playboy and its bunny-head logo are synonymous with the exploitation and abuse of women and girls. We pointed out its long history of sexual exploitation for profit, including:
- publication of child exploitation material
- image based abuse
- presenting rape and child abuse as "men's entertainment"
We highlighted Playboy's recent ventures which include:
- selling porn-branded merchandise to China's children and to teens across the globe via popular youth retailers
- launching an online porn platform
- exposing children to degrading, BDSM and porn themed ads in family friendly shopping malls
We also pointed to Playboy's long-standing connections to Pornhub parent company, MindGeek. According to publicly available information (see here and here for examples), MindGeek operates Playboy's digital assets and subscription tv channels. We expressed our concerns about the connections given MindGeek is the subject of calls for a criminal investigation for its role in distributing illegal content (including child exploitation material), and multiple lawsuits by sex abuse and trafficking survivors. (Read more about the campaign to shut down Pornhub here.)
Under MindGeek management: Lawsuit document names Playboy in list of MindGeek's managed websites
We asked the shareholders to demonstrate their commitment to responsible investment by divesting from PLBY Group immediately, to let us know if they agreed their investment is inconsistent with their UNPRI membership, and what action (if any) they planned to take.
Read our letter - click the image below.
If you see your bank or pension fund on this list, tell them what you think of their Playboy investments. Let us know how they respond.
Update: WIN! Goldman Sachs mass-dumps PLBY shares
Finance giant Goldman Sachs recently sold off a huge chunk of its Playboy shares, following our calls to divest. Documents filed by GS on November 14 reported an 82.47% decrease in ownership of PLBY (Playboy’s parent company, PLBY Group).
In July 2022, we wrote to Goldman Sachs and other PLBY shareholders. We highlighted the porn entity’s long history of profiting from sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls and recent sexploitation ventures, and called on shareholders with clearly stated responsible investment commitments to divest from the company.
Goldman Sachs' Former Global Head of ESG & Impact Hugh Lawson responded to us, stating that while the important questions we raised were ‘not within the scope’ of his responsibilities, he would forward our letter to colleagues who were ‘better placed to consider them’.
After they reduced their sharehold, we wrote to Goldman Sachs to ask if they planned to divest their remaining PLBY shares.
We will be keeping the pressure on. Instead of divesting, some of the companies we wrote to have bought even more PLBY shares (we see you Royal Bank of Canada, Morgan Stanley, State Street, CalSTRS).