The Intentional Endowments Network's "Engaging Investment Managers on Proxy Voting & Other Forms of Shareholder Engagement" document outlines potential questions for investment managers on their proxy voting and other shareholder engagement activities around ESG. To signal your endowment’s commitment to sustainability, your institution can share a list of questions, such as the one provided below, with both managers and advisors. Sharing your questions and interest in writing at the beginning of the dialogue will allow your managers and advisors an opportunity to prepare for an informed conversation on engagement.
Click here to access the "Engaging Investment Managers on Proxy Voting & Other Forms of Shareholder Engagement" document.
Thanks to the following IEN members for their input and feedback during the development of this document:
- Sarah Cleveland, Principal, Sarah Cleveland Consulting
- Alice DonnaSelva, Investment Consultant, Prime Buchholz
- Keith L. Johnson, Chairman, Reinhart Boarner Van Deuren
- Tom Mitchell, Managing Director, Cambridge Associates
- Jameela Pedicini, Director, Asset Management, Perella Weinberg Partners
Proxy voting can be a powerful tool for improving corporate performance on social and environmental sustainability issues to enhance long-term value. Increasingly, stakeholders are calling for endowments to be more active owners, and many argue that doing so is a responsibility of fiduciaries.
This webinar (from July 13th, 2016) provides a basic overview of proxy voting, including:
- A recap of the 2016 proxy season (what were the big issues and results?)
- Mechanics of how to vote proxies (how do we do it?)
- Effectiveness of proxy voting (what impact does it have on companies and society?)
- Proxy voting by external managers (how can we have a say in proxy voting if we don’t own the shares directly?)
- Resources required for proxy voting (how much time and money will it require to do this?)
- Moderator: Sonal Mahida, Director, Intentional Endowments Network
- Heidi Welsh, Executive Director, Sustainable Investments Institute
- Laura Campos, Director of Shareholder Activities, Nathan Cummings Foundation
Heidi Welsh, Executive Director, Sustainable Investments Institute
Heidi Welsh, Executive Director of the Sustainable Investments Institute, oversees Si2’s impartial, in-depth research about proxy season and corporate responsibility issues for institutional investors, including some of the largest North American pension funds and leading colleges and universities. In addition, she was the lead author on two studies about the corporate governance of political spending in the S&P 500 published with the IRRC Institute. Previously, Welsh worked at the Investor Responsibility Research Center and for 16 years ran a monitoring program on corporate fair employment practices in Northern Ireland, while also analyzing shareholder proposals. She co-authored the 2007 Carbon Disclosure Project report on the S&P 500 and set up a global sustainability metrics project for RiskMetrics analyzing 1,800 of the world’s biggest companies. She holds a B.A. from Carleton College, cum laude, and an M.S. from the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University.
Laura Campos, Director of Shareholder Activities, Nathan Cummings Foundation
Ms. Campos has more than a decade of experience engaging public corporations on topics ranging from climate change to executive compensation. As the director of shareholder activities for the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Laura is active in numerous outside groups and shareholder coalitions focusing on responsible investment practices, including the Investor Network on Climate Risk and the Principles for Responsible Investment. She serves on the Principles for Responsible Investment’s Small and Resource-Constrained Funds Steering Committee and is a member of the Advisory Board of ProxyDemocracy. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The International Business Times, among others.
Prior experience includes serving as a Financial Advisor Associate at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Laura has also worked on projects for the Arcus Foundation, the Aga Khan Foundation and Christian Aid.
Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the College of Wooster and an MSc, Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Sonal Mahida, Director, Intentional Endowments Network
Sonal Mahida comes to IEN with over 15 years of experience in the field. During her career Sonal has worked on ESG investing and sustainability issues at institutional investors, S&P 500, Fortune 500 companies, as well as non-profits.
As Head of North America for the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), she developed and led initiatives to aid U.S. and Canadian investors in the practice and implementation of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration and risk management. Prior to joining PRI, Sonal worked on corporate sustainability at Hess. Previously, she was Vice President of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), where she managed the organization’s US activities and was a Senior Governance Analyst at TIAA-CREF, where she led ESG dialogues and engagements with portfolio companies, as well as proxy voting analysis. Sonal is a frequent speaker at investment conferences. She has been a guest on Bloomberg MarketMakers and her work has been covered in in Forbes, Greenbiz, and industry publications.
Sonal holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and an M.B.A. in Finance from Boston University's School of Management
by Bill Baue, June 2, 2016
The Spring 2016 proxy votes supporting the 2°C stress test resolutions at last week’s Annual General Meetings of ExxonMobil (38.2%) and Chevron (41%) give cause for both celebration - and concern. These votes suggest that key asset managers are recognizing (and others seem to be willfully ignoring) climate risk inherent in the business-as-usual practices of the largest U.S. oil and gas corporations and their downstream value chains.
The Exxon Annual Meeting: Written by the First Ever Students to File a Shareholder Resolution l Dwight Hall Socially Responsible Investing group
by dhsri, June 2, 2016
Although our expectations were tempered, we arrived in Dallas last Wednesday with the belief that Exxon’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting would offer some dialogue between investors and Exxon’s CEO, Rex Tillerson. We hoped that Tillerson would truly consider and engage with shareholders’ ideas and questions. Our hopes were not met.
Sustainable Finance: News, Analysis, Commentary l Bloomberg Brief
May 26, 2016
GREEN BONDS: Investors expect more automakers to tap the green bond market. Led by the financial arms of Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co., companies have raised $2.5 billion so far in 2016 from green bonds to finance electric and hybrid vehicles.
OIL: Climate change proposals didn't get majority support from shareholders at Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. annual meetings on Wednesday. But two proposals got closer than ever to crossing the finish.
Q&A: Wealth advisers should consider social implications of investments, David Lynch, president and deputy chief investment officer at $5.9 billion asset manager Athena Capital Advisors says.
ALSO INSIDE: San Francisco issues a green bond for water infrastructure; Gender diversity yields higher stock market returns and less volatility according to a Morgan Stanley analysis; Clean energy jobs surpassed oil drilling jobs in the U.S. for the first time; Norway's sovereign wealth fund faces wider coal ban; Countries with lower credit ratings are seen more vulnerable to climate change.
Exxon And Chevron Shareholders Vote Down Proposals On Climate Risk Outlook, Despite Strong Support l International Business Times
- Exxon Mobil and Chevron shareholders shot down proposals at annual meetings Wednesday that would have required the companies to outline how they planned to adjust in a world battling cataclysmic climate change.
Oil Giants In A Changing Climate l On Point with Tom Ashbrook
May 25, 2016
- How will the oil giants do business in the climate change future? Shareholders at Exxon, Chevron and more want to hear their plans. So do we.
Exxon, Chevron Face Unprecedented Investor Pressure Over Climate Change Disclosure l International Business Times
by Owen Davis, May 24, 2016
Climate-conscious investors are preparing to deliver two top U.S. energy companies an unprecedented rebuke at annual shareholder meetings Wednesday.
A month after world leaders came together to sign the historic Paris Agreement, cementing a promise to keep the Earth from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, a record number of shareholder groups have backed proposals that would require Exxon Mobil and Chevron to say how they would adjust to that reality.
Exxon Investors Seek Assurance as Climate Shifts, Along With Attitudes l The New York Times
By Clifford Krauss and John Schwartz ,May 23, 2016
HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil has been under pressure for over a year to explain its handling of climate change issues in the past. Now the company faces new pressure to explain its future, particularly how it will change in response to a warming world.
At the company’s planned annual meeting on Wednesday in Dallas, shareholders will vote on a resolution to prod Exxon Mobil to disclose the risks of climate change to its business.
From The Dwight Hall SRI Fund at Yale University
Last week, our shareholder engagement team at the Dwight Hall SRI Fund received some positive news. We learned that the shareholder resolution that we had co-filed at ExxonMobil was to be included in the company’s annual proxy statement and would be voted on by the company’s shareholders in May.
This is our latest milestone in an unfinished journey, which began in August of 2014. At that time, the Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility announced that the Yale Endowment would adopt a special proxy voting directive for the issue of climate change:
“Yale will generally support reasonable and well-constructed shareholder resolutions seeking company disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, analyses of the impact of climate change on a company’s business activities, strategies designed to reduce the company’s long-term impact on the global climate, and company support of sound and effective governmental policies on climate change.”
As a student-run socially responsible investment fund, we at Dwight Hall SRI sought to file a resolution that the Yale Endowment might be able to vote for in accordance with the new directive. Moreover, Yale’s decades-old guidelines for ethical investment hold that when the exercise of shareholder voice seems unlikely to eliminate a grave social injury within a reasonable timeframe, the University should divest. So we recognized that filing a resolution would be a valuable opportunity to examine the efficacy of shareholder engagement in this context.
Pictured Above: Members of the Shareholder Engagement Team
After some deliberation, we chose ExxonMobil over other possible companies, partly because of its status as the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company in the world. Early in December of 2014, we purchased stock in ExxonMobil. The SEC requires that shareholders must continuously hold a minimum of $2,000 in a company’s stock for at least one year in order to file a resolution.Read more