Shareholder ESG resolutions reach record levels

SShareholder activism is beginning to influence Corporate America as an unprecedented number of new resolutions based on environmental, social and governance themes were proposed in 2022.

According to a recent study by activist group As You Sow and researchers including the Sustainable Investments Institute, shareholders have filed a record 529 resolutions on ESG issues for annual meetings of publicly traded U.S. companies so far in 2022, up 22% for the same year-over-year period, Reuters reports.

Many of the new resolutions asked for details on ESG issues such as carbon emissions or workforce diversity. According to the study’s sponsors, activist programs have been successfully adopted over the past year as the change of directors at Exxon Mobil Corp could prompt directors to take a closer look at ESG-related proposals.

“Companies realize that their investors want them to have less risk,” Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, told Reuters, adding that he and others believe shareholders could benefit from the new guidelines. from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which makes things more difficult. for boards to ignore votes.

Pro-ESG resolutions that have been passed include a recent vote on March 4 at Jack in the Box Inc, where 95% of votes were in favor of a resolution for sustainable packaging sponsored by Green Century Capital Management. Jack in the Box, on the other hand, had recommended voting against the measure.

Boston Trust activist Walden has agreed to withdraw a shareholder resolution for JPMorgan Chase & Co’s spring meeting. The Wall Street bank has offered to provide more details in its next fall report on its lobbying activities and memberships in professional associations, according to a securities filing. .

Corporate activism has also aligned with broader American concerns about the Russian-Ukrainian war, as many big names like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, among others, have decided to suspend operations in Russia in retaliation for attacks by Moscow.

For more news, insights and strategy on ESG investing and related issues, visit the ESG channel.

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