In focus

This AGM season's shareholder resolutions: how we have voted


We have taken action by voting against management and in favour of shareholder resolutions across a range of topics from racial equity to climate and lobbying disclosures this AGM season.

Now that this year’s voting and reporting season has come to an end, we thought it would be useful to highlight the main trends in our decisions and some key resolutions.

We have been publishing all votes on environmental and social resolutions and the rationales on the voting section of our website.

Below is our summary.


People issues we’ve voted on (social)

Diversity and inclusion

It has been a record year for diversity-related proposals and we’ve supported a number of them.

This AGM season we asked First Solar, the 20-year-old American manufacturer of solar panels and provider of solar power plants, for a plan on board diversity, for example.

We also asked for reports on workforce and diversity and inclusion initiatives at rail transport giant Union Pacific and UPS, the shipping and logistics service.  

We’ve supported specific asks on pay disparity at Amazon and the US food company Mondelez, known for brands including Oreos, Belvita and Ritz biscuits and Cadbury, Milka and Toblerone chocolate.

Read more: Sustainable Investment Report Q3 2020: How we’re engaging to promote gender diversity

Racial equity

We believe that corporate diversity is a key driver of returns and we've taken action by asking for racial equity audits at Amazon, JPMorgan investment bank, American financial services business State Street Corporation and the US tech corporation Intel.

The shareholder advocacy group As You Sow has said 70% of S&P500 companies published statements of commitment to workplace diversity, equity and inclusion in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

Human rights

We’ve supported specific resolutions to combat potential human rights infringements, for example asking for more information on due diligence at Northrop Grumman, the global aerospace and defence business headquartered in Virginia, US.

The defence industry is failing to carry out effective human rights due diligence, according to a 2019 Amnesty international report.

Big tech

We have supported a range of resolutions at big tech companies calling for them to take on a greater responsibility for their impact on society. We voted on shareholder resolutions at the AGMs of Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet.

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Planet issues we’ve voted on (environment)

Climate resolutions

When it comes to climate resolutions we’ve largely been asking for emissions reduction targets – particularly focused on significant emitters such as global shipping and logistics business UPS and the global machinery manufacturer Caterpillar; and large oil and gas companies like Conoco Phillips, Alaska’s largest crude oil producer; and oil & gas giants Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron.

Fossil fuel financers

At HSBC's AGM, for example, we voted in favour of a management resolution added to the ballot in a response to a shareholder resolution. The resolution passed.


Governance issues we’ve voted on

Lobbying disclosures

We have asked for more details on lobbying payments and policies to ensure transparency.

Examples include resolutions at Uber, Netflix, the US home improvement company The Home Depot, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and JPMorgan. This includes some specific asks on climate related lobbying from companies like Norfolk Southern (US freight rail transportation company) and US energy companies Phillips 66 and Sempra Energy.


Engagement escalation examples: voting against directors

At Chevron’s AGM we voted against the chair of the governance committee to show our disappointment at lack of progress on emissions targets.

At Amazon’s AGM we voted against lead director Jonathan Rubinstein to voice our concerns over a lack of transparency around labour standards and workforce structure (particularly over the use of subcontractors).

Read more: Sustainable Investment Report Q3 2020: Active ownership in practice: Amazon’s labour standards – escalating our concerns

 

The companies shown above are for illustrative purposes only and not to be considered as a recommendation to buy or sell.

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