DETROIT -- A union-affiliated pension fund advisor said it is pressing Rivian on human rights and environment concerns in the EV startup's battery supply chain ahead of its expected blockbuster initial public offering.
SOC Investment Group, in a letter sent Wednesday to Rivian board member Rose Marcario, called on the Irvine, Calif.-based company to "commit to a rigorous human rights assessment of Rivian and its value chain" before it finalizes the S-1 document with U.S. regulators for its IPO. SOC provided a copy of the letter to Reuters.
"Failure to address potential human rights abuses and environmental harms associated with the battery life cycle exposes Rivian to significant regulatory, litigation and reputational risks," SOC Executive Director Dieter Waizenegger said in the letter, calling on Rivian to respond by Nov. 3.
"It just was baffling to us when we were looking through the S-1 that they're completely silent on that," he added in an interview with Reuters, citing the company's marketing to consumers who enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. "The (battery) supply chain and production is rife with human rights risks."
As issues of environmental, social and corporate governance take on growing important with investors, automakers have come under pressure to prove that such minerals as lithium and cobalt for their electric vehicles batteries are sourced without human rights abuses.
In the past, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has expressed his desire to eliminate the use of cobalt from the EV leader's batteries because of the financial and reputation risk of a metal associated with child labor and poor safety conditions at artisanal mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world's dominant producer.
SOC called on Rivian to adopt policies to identify and prevent human rights risks and environmental impacts through its supply chain based on United Nations guiding principles for businesses.
It also wants Rivian to publicly support a moratorium on deep-seabed mining, adopt a policy not to buy minerals from the deep seabed, designate a board committee with responsibility for oversight of these issues and report annually to investors on the company's efforts.
Rivian officials had no immediate comment.