12 University Teams to Compete for Top Honors in Sustainable Investing, ESG Shareholder Advocacy Competition
Undergraduate and graduate students from Arizona State University, Bard College, Central Washington University, New York University: Stern School of Business, Presidio Graduate School, Ryerson University, University of California Berkeley: Haas School of Business, University of California Los Angeles: Anderson School of Management, University of Chicago: Booth School of Business, University of Minnesota, Virginia Wesleyan University, and Yale University to compete on climate change, racial justice, and other top environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.
BOSTON, MA—JAN. 25, 2022—Students teams from 12 universities across the U.S. and Canada have entered a head-to-head contest in the Intentional Endowments Network‘s (IEN) Student Corporate Engagement Competition. Teams of three to five undergraduate and graduate students will showcase their skills in sustainable investing and shareholder advocacy. These teams start today and will meet in the finals at the end of April.
“We are very excited to build off of last year’s winning proposal and apply the lessons we have learned from recent shareholder engagements through our student organization,” said Nico McCrossan, a member of the Arizona State University team, which took home top honors in last year’s competition.
IEN’s Student Corporate Engagement Competition, sponsored by Federated Hermes and TIAA, is a first-of-its-kind student investment competition in which students pitch an investment in a publicly traded company and include in that recommendation a shareholder engagement strategy focused on addressing inequality and the climate crisis — systemic risks that threaten a healthy society, and in turn, healthy portfolio returns. Along the way to the final judging taking place the week of April 25, the students will receive sustainable investing and shareholder advocacy coaching and training from members of IEN and As You Sow, an in-kind sponsor and educational partner.
“The student competition has been growing since inception three years ago,” said Georges Dyer, executive director of IEN. “These 50 students will show us how they plan to shift corporate practices through smart investing and direct advocacy to create a new economy, suited to address the challenges of the 21st century.”
The students competing are the future leaders of the emerging regenerative economy based on justice and sustainability,” said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow. “The old extractive economy is winding down; the ideas of Milton Freidman have led to climate change, ocean ecosystem destruction, and the shredding of civil society. This competition will showcase new stakeholder capitalism concepts that change the fundamental purpose of business.”
2021 was a groundbreaking year for shareholder advocacy. Why? Because shareholders stood shoulder-to-shoulder breaking every record for proxy votes, resulting in shifts in corporate governance, policies, and practices. Examples include the election of new board members at Exxon, Dupont committing to reduce plastic pollution, and getting Blackrock to perform a racial justice audit.
"University curriculums, for the most part, do not teach students about the power investors have to hold corporations accountable through shareholder advocacy," said Nicole Torrico, program director at IEN. "It is essential that the next generation of sustainable investors understand how to take concrete action to address social inequity and the interrelated climate crisis through all aspects of their investment portfolios."
Over the next three months, these student teams will receive a crash course by experts in the field from NGOs, socially responsible Investing firms, and legal experts. Their research, presentations, resolutions, and no-action defenses will be judged by leaders in the field to establish winners in both the undergraduate and graduate division.
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 a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Click here to see As You Sow’s shareholder resolution tracker.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alex Frank, (703) 276-3264, [email protected]