In focus

Sustainable Investment Report Q2 2021: active ownership and the voting season in another year of virtual AGMs


A message from Schroders' Head of Sustainability Strategy Hannah Simons:

Annual general meetings are perhaps the most visible platform where companies and their management are held to account.

While Schroders engages with firms all year round to influence behaviour and encourage them to deliver long term returns by adapting to the changing world, it is voting on resolutions at AGMs that garners most attention.

The second quarter has been, as ever, a busy period for AGMs, and as we publish our second quarter Sustainable Investment Report, proxy voting activity does not stop.

The May AGM of the US oil giant ExxonMobil, at which we voted against management, is just one example to have attracted media coverage – in that case due to a shareholder rebellion led by hedge fund Engine No 1.

Key trends from a second year of virtual AGMs 

In the Insights section we share our approach to decision-making and effecting change, and we put the spotlight on the growing interest in
shareholder resolutions.

Read more from our Chief Investment Officer Johanna Kyrklund and Global Head of Sustainable Investment Andy Howard on that.

We gave a snapshot of our expectations for 2021’s voting season in our first quarter report. Our predictions included a focus on non-financial targets, such as net zero pledges and socially conscious goals, and requests for diversity and inclusion disclosures.

We will return with a more detailed summary of the trends and our activity when the voting season is over.

I said last quarter, and it is worth repeating: with the climate summit COP26 scheduled to take place in November, climate action is top of the sustainable investing agenda.

Active ownership in practice

As usual, the Active Ownership section of this report provides an update on engagements – from in-depth, sustainable investment team-led dialogue to our voting and company meetings for all holdings.

You can see which companies we’ve engaged with this quarter and the topics discussed, whether they were environmental, social or governance.

We also share details from just a couple of the many instances where Schroders is taking an active stance on ESG issues.

We update on conversations we’ve been having with UK housing associations to encourage them to report in a consistent way, using a new Sustainability Reporting Standard.

You can also hear from our European investment team on the work they have been doing with the French supermarket group Carrefour.

How we're providing transparency on our UK voting decisions

Meanwhile, over on the active ownership section of our website, we’re providing greater transparency on our voting rationales than ever before.

Our new sustainability-focused shareholder resolution reports are being published on a weekly basis throughout peak voting season (from April to the end of July).

They follow the same format as our monthly voting reports.

Sustainable Investment Report Q2 2021 (found here): 

Introduction

Active ownership and voting season in another year of virtual AGMs

Sustainability Insights

How to win over companies and influence a better future

Shareholder power: our approach to resolutions and voting at AGMs

What investors have been reading and watching this quarter

Active Ownership

Housing associations case study: how we're pushing for more transparency on sustainability 

Carrefour case study: the tricky act of balancing different stakeholder interests

Engagement in numbers

Voting in numbers

Which companies we've engaged with

Engagement progress 12 months on 

The report can be found here along with previous reports.