Amazon workers’ rights: how we will vote at 2022 AGM
Amazon workers’ rights: how we will vote at 2022 AGM
Global retailer giant Amazon has come under intense scrutiny for the way it treats its staff and the conditions under which they work. Schroders will use its 2022 voting rights as part of its efforts to drive change at the company by supporting three shareholders’ resolutions. These resolutions are filed by investors in the business, rather than by management.
Schroders is also considering other agenda items at this meeting and is likely to be voting against the board’s recommendations for other proposals in addition to those detailed above.
What shareholder proposals will Schroders be supporting at Amazon’s 2022 AGM?
Out of a total 18 shareholder resolutions, three relate to workers’ rights.
“These are a request for a report on worker health and safety differences; a request for additional reporting on freedom of association and a request for a report on warehouse working conditions,” said Tim Goodman, Schroders’ Head of Corporate Governance.
“We believe it is important to support these proposals, which align with our own engagement with the company, call for greater disclosure and promote stronger workers’ rights.”
Workers’ rights is one of six priority themes in Schroders’ engagement blueprint, which sets out our approach to active management. It comes under the umbrella heading of “human capital management” (HCM). This has been identified as a priority at Amazon because developing and retaining people within the company is vital if it is to maintain and grow its competitive advantage.
Tim Goodman said: “Our engagement with Amazon also seeks to cover areas such as improving the wages paid to staff and the benefits that they are offered; worker engagement and representation within Amazon; the health and wellbeing of workers; and the working conditions within Amazon’s warehouses.”
Schroders has engaged with Amazon on these issues since 2015.
Kimberley Lewis, Head of Active Ownership, said: “Since then we have had 23 meetings with Amazon and many of these engagements have focused on worker issues, specifically health and safety and worker voice.” This describes increasing the opportunities for staff members to raise their concerns with Amazon.
Katie Frame, Active Ownership Manager ESG, said: “In 2022, through further engagements with Amazon, we have sought to understand how the company extends its safety provisions to contractors (for example, delivery drivers). Also, why its safety performance is still below its sector peers, and what it is doing to address this,” Kimberley Lewis said
“We have also sought to understand why the company is concerned about its US workers becoming unionised and why its relations with the unions still appear fraught. We have also pushed Amazon to disclose its worker turnover figures. “
Schroders’ engagement on workers’ rights at other companies
Kimberley Lewis said: “At Schroders we approach active ownership differently. We believe it is important to set clear expectations for companies around sustainable business practices and, as a result, we are able to influence corporate behaviour through constructive and committed engagement with the companies and assets we invest in.”
Simone Geldenhuys, Global Sector Specialist, Multi Regional Equity, said: “Sustainable practices are an important part of business longevity and competitive advantage, so when considering our investment holdings, we see active ownership as a key mechanism to communicate our views and hold management teams accountable. With Amazon, for example, logistics is a differentiating capability of the business. This means protecting their workers' human rights is critical in building robust supply chains. Also, receiving appropriate disclosures from Amazon on ensuring worker safety allows us to assess operational and financial risks.
“Voting is just one of the facets we use for active ownership; together with engagement, we have found our approach to active ownership to be relatively effective in ensuring a two-way dialogue with companies and pushing for more corporate accountability. Voting specifically can be an effective way of signalling lack of progress to a company.
“With Amazon, we feel our votes are pointing to areas which require progress given the materiality of these issues and hopefully help focus the management's priorities in following sustainable practice. Through active ownership, we aim to protect and enhance the value of our clients' investments.”
- Commentary: "Talk to me Goose"
- Quarterly markets review - Q2 2022
- Why Japan is more ESG leader than laggard
- Will Russia-Ukraine war disrupt Europe’s energy transition?
- Where we're finding value in Asian equities after turbulent time
- Podcast: What it means to be an active owner
This material has been issued by Schroder Investment Management Australia Limited (ABN 22 000 443 274, AFSL 226473) (Schroders) for information purposes only. It is intended solely for professional investors and financial advisers and is not suitable for distribution to retail clients. The views and opinions contained herein are those of the authors as at the date of publication and are subject to change due to market and other conditions. Such views and opinions may not necessarily represent those expressed or reflected in other Schroders communications, strategies or funds. The information contained is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Schroders does not give any warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of information which is contained in this material. Except insofar as liability under any statute cannot be excluded, Schroders and its directors, employees, consultants or any company in the Schroders Group do not accept any liability (whether arising in contract, in tort or negligence or otherwise) for any error or omission in this material or for any resulting loss or damage (whether direct, indirect, consequential or otherwise) suffered by the recipient of this material or any other person. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice. Any references to securities, sectors, regions and/or countries are for illustrative purposes only. You should note that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Schroders may record and monitor telephone calls for security, training and compliance purposes.