Warren Wilson College Endowment Announces 80% Success Rate at Shifting Corporate Behavior by Activating Investment Portfolio

North Carolina College Finds Success Filing Shareholder Resolutions and Voting Proxies at Companies Including Energy Giant's Duke, Dominion, Entergy, and Valero

SWANNANOA, NC (August 17, 2022) – Warren Wilson College (WWC), a liberal arts college in North Carolina, has made an impact by actively engaging the companies in which the endowment invests. As a result, the College can point to real progress in addressing climate change and racial justice, according to a new report from the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN). Launched today, Warren Wilson College: Impacting How Companies Do Business details how, through partnerships with the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) and As You Sow, WWC has influenced companies’ actions to enhance long term value, including energy giants Duke Energy, Dominion, Entergy, and Valero, through proxy voting and shareholder engagement.

"Warren Wilson College’s experience  can provide universities across the country with valuable insights on how to effectively engage the companies in their endowment portfolios through proxy voting and the filing of shareholder resolutions. The College’s successful resolutions at companies that are industry leaders are a prime blueprint for endowments, institutional investors, and those seeking to promote meaningful change via the boardroom," said Nicole Torrico, Program Director at The Intentional Endowments Network. 

During the 2021-2022 engagement season (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022), Warren Wilson College signed 32 letters of authorization allowing As You Sow  to enter into dialogue and submit shareholder resolutions to companies WWC holds in its portfolio. Of those 32 signed letters of authorization to engage, dialogue with more than 80% of companies led to impactful agreements that addressed the resolution request sufficiently.

These agreements included setting net zero and interim emissions targets; performing net-zero scenario analysis; publicly reporting EEO-1 data; publicly disclosing workforce retention, recruitment, and promotion data; addressing systemic racial justice; and working with local communities to address environmental justice concerns. 

“When endowments use their power as shareholders, rapid progress can be made, said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow. “Warren Wilson College made the conscious decision to activate their portfolio to align with their mission. By defining material issues, working with our team to directly engage senior management at major public companies, and engaging with us on ESG-aligned proxy voting, higher education institutions can follow Warren Wilson’s lead and make their voice heard on issues critical to students’ futures – including climate change and racial justice.”

Companies where WWC filed or co-filed a shareholder resolution include: Autozone Inc, Berkshire Hathaway Inc, Dollar General Corp, Dominion Energy Inc, Duke Energy Corp, Entergy Corp, Eversource Energy, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc, HCA Healthcare Inc, Kinder Morgan Inc, Martin Marietta Material Inc, Nisource Inc, O’Reilly Automotive Inc, Valero, and Energy Group.

WWC has also influenced the actions of companies through proxy voting. From March 2021 through January 2022, WWC used As You Sow’s ESG-aligned proxy voting service, As You Vote, to vote 13,000 proxy ballot line items at approximately 1,200 companies, including 420 shareholder proposed ballot items. 

“The As You Vote platform allowed Warren Wilson College to cast proxy votes we wouldn’t have had the capacity to vote otherwise. The College contributed to some big wins, including at General Electric, where a proposal asking the company to commit to meeting net zero emissions targets by 2050 earned a 98% majority vote; and a 60% vote at American Express and an 81% vote at Union Pacific, on proposals asking each company to assess the effectiveness of their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The implementation of the platform has been great, and I think could really scale at other universities,” said Ben Linthicum, ESG Advisory Committee Chair at Warren Wilson College.

Proxy voting is an important tool that endowments can utilize to make an impact, influencing corporate policy on issues like climate change, racial justice, political spending, gender equality, and toxins in the food system. Moving these corporations to improve their practices  has immense impact, as corporate decisions influence policy, supply chains, livelihoods, cultures, and markets on a global scale.

WWC has proven that investor engagement with corporations can be highly effective in compelling real, positive change in corporate policies and practices, in turn enhancing company value and investment returns.  

MEDIA CONTACT: Alex Frank, (703) 276-3264, [email protected]


Warren Wilson College is a vibrant, independent college with an innovative curriculum that purposefully integrates the liberal arts with community engagement and work experiences to prepare students for not only professional success, but also a life of meaning.  

The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) is a peer learning network of colleges, universities, and other mission-driven institutional investors working together to achieve their risk and return objectives through investment actions that create a thriving, sustainable economy. IEN has more than 200 network members including endowments, asset managers, investment consultants, nonprofit partners, and individuals.

As You Sow is the nation’s leading shareholder advocacy nonprofit, with a 30-year track record promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility and advancing values-aligning investing. Its issue areas include climate change, ocean plastics, pesticides, racial justice, workplace diversity, and executive compensation. Click here for As You Sow’s shareholder resolution tracker.



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