2022 Shareholder Advocacy Strong on Climate Change, Racial Equity
For the 2022 annual meeting season, Portico co-filed 12 resolutions with companies in which it invests. Most resolutions focused on climate change and racial equity.
- Nine companies (75%) agreed to take positive action, giving Portico and other filers enough confidence to withdraw their resolutions.
- Three companies (25%) did not respond positively and filers allowed those resolutions to come up for a vote at the companies’ annual meetings. One resolution received a “for” vote of over 50%; the other two received votes of between 25% and 50% — strong enough votes to get a company’s attention and potentially prompt action.
Through shareholder advocacy, Portico encourages companies to adopt more sustainable corporate practices. The goal is two-fold: deliver value to ELCA retirement plan members by strengthening their investments’ long-term growth potential, and to support the ELCA’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) ministry.
“It was a successful season for us,” said Erin Ripperger, manager of Portico’s socially responsible investing and investor advocacy. “When we call companies to action through a resolution, we’re looking for them to engage with us — agree to dialogue, listen to our concerns, commit to taking a first step. It’s a win if we can withdraw a resolution. And this season, we were able to withdraw the majority of our resolutions.”
Importantly, seven of the nine withdrawn resolutions addressed issues related to climate change and environmental protection. According to Ripperger, this is a clear sign of a larger trend — companies taking more seriously shareholder concern about environmental risk.
“Climate change is arguably one of the most pressing issues facing companies and investors,” Ripperger said. “More resolutions around the environment were filed for 2022 annual meetings than ever before and engagement was strong.
Investors are making it clear that this is not just about being environmentally responsible. Climate change is a risk that companies simply can’t ignore — investor dollars depend on it.”
Also gaining ground are resolutions focused on racial equity. Portico co-filed three resolutions calling on companies to complete and publicly disclose the results of an independent racial equity audit analyzing if, and how, their policies and practices discriminate against or disparately impact communities of color.
- One company responded positively, allowing co-filers to withdraw the resolution.
- The other two failed to respond positively and got strong shareholder votes in favor of the resolution at their annual meetings — 63% and 48%.
An early sign that the racial equity audit was going to gain traction came when new management for Tyson Foods, a controlled company (with enough votes to vote down any resolution), agreed early last winter to conduct the audit and continue dialogue with shareholders. Filers were able to withdraw the resolution, and Tyson is continuing to dialogue with them while working on completing the audit.
“Racial equity audit proposals have been receiving unprecedented shareholder support since their introduction in 2021,” Ripperger said. “In fact, they are the second-most frequently filed category of resolutions behind climate change. Investors will continue keeping the pressure on companies to address the systemic risk of racial inequity by filing more resolutions around this for 2023 annual meetings.”
ELCA retirement plan members can find a full listing of Portico resolution outcomes on myPortico.
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