Concerned Investors Push Corporations at Record Level in 2014
This year investors filed a whopping 454 shareholder resolutions on social and environmental issues, up from 402 such resolutions filed last year. The 454 filings exceed the number of social and environmental resolutions ever filed in one year – clear testimony to the growth in shareholder action.
As reported by the Sustainable Investments Institute, not only are the numbers of social and environmental resolutions increasing, but the level of support they are receiving is also on the rise. Votes through August received an average of 21.7 percent support, well above the level of support needed for the resolutions to be refiled in 2015 if the companies continue to fail to address the issues of concern.
Green America educated investors on a wide range of resolutions, many of them filed by the institutional investor members of our Green Business Network. These leaders in socially responsible investing put forward resolutions on issues including banking practices, climate change, corporate lobbying, corporate political spending, human rights, toxic chemicals, water usage, GMOs, and more. The graph depicts the status of our featured resolutions: whether they faced a vote, were withdrawn by the filer due to progress at the company, or were omitted by the SEC for not meeting filing criteria.
You can see the final voting results of our Shareholder Resolution Focus List here.
Dominant shareholder concerns included energy and climate issues and corporate political engagement. The highest climate-related vote was 39.4 percent at Valero, urging the company to set quantitative goals for greenhouse gas reductions. Shareholder action on climate change is growing alongside the Divest-Invest movement that urges investors to divest from fossil fuel companies and to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
While it is rare for a social or environmental resolution to receive majority shareholder support, the four social resolutions that did receive majority support, and which were opposed by management, addressed corporate lobbying and the disclosure of election spending. These resolutions at SLM, Lorillard, Valero, and Dean Foods all received more than 51 percent support. These high votes can be attributed to the growing number of investors and investor networks that are actively confronting corporate influence on the integrity of our democracy. Their resolutions range from seeking greater transparency on corporate political actions to bans on corporate political spending.
Green America urges all shareholders of direct company stock to vote your proxies in support of the social, environmental, and corporate governance resolutions that can help push corporations toward more responsible practices and policies.
Thanks to the Sustainable Investments Institute for the shareholder resolution data cited in this post.