Warren Wilson College: 2023 Shareholder Engagement Impact Review

The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) is proud to announce the release of the Warren Wilson College 2023 Shareholder Engagement Briefing Paper.  

Warren Wilson College (WWC), a liberal arts college in North Carolina, has continued to improve financial returns and advance racial equity and improvements in environmental management through the shareholder engagement process.

“Warren Wilson College continues to be a leader on the cutting edge of leveraging their power as shareholders to improve financial value in their investments and promote meaningful change. The College's shareholder engagement work merits celebration, and provides not just inspiration, but a model for college and university endowments to effectively engage the companies in their endowment portfolios through proxy voting and the filing of shareholder resolutions,” said Nicole Torrico, Managing Director at The Intentional Endowments Network.

During the 2022-2023 engagement season (July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023), Warren Wilson College signed 58 letters of authorization initiating engagements with companies in WWC’s investment portfolio. Over 25% of the authorized engagements resulted in agreements that satisfactorily fulfilled the requests of the engagement.

These agreements covered important topics such as climate change, racial justice and gender equity, executive governance and compensation, political spending and lobbying disclosure, as well as human rights and supply chain issues. 

Companies where WWC filed or co-filed a shareholder resolution include: Cintas, Chubb, Comcast Corp, Constellation Brands, Coty Inc, eBay, The Kroger Co, Linde PLC, Mueller Industries Inc, Texas Roadhouse Inc, T-Mobile US Inc, and Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies. 

This engagement season, WWC has continued to use, As You Vote, As You Sow’s ESG aligned proxy voting service, to vote 1,090 proxy ballot line items at 1,067 companies, including many shareholder proposed ballot items. 

Anthony Rust, Trustee and Chair of the Investment Committee, Warren Wilson College, shared his thoughts on the engagement work conducted by Warren Wilson College: “Since 2015, Warren Wilson College has taken a very active approach to our endowment fund management. From divesting our portfolio of fossil fuel related investments to incorporating environmental, social and governance criteria into investment decisions to selecting investment managers who align with our investment philosophy and values to activist shareholder engagement and proxy voting. As an example of the latter, we have seen the positive impact we have had on influencing corporate behavior on issues of importance to the college through the filing of shareholder resolutions, voting our proxies and aligning with other like-minded shareholders through coalition building, all of which reflect the values we espouse as a college, the goal of helping corporations improve and perform better, and our priority of maximizing returns on a risk-adjusted basis for our endowment fund.”

Read the Briefing Paper

WWC continues to model how investor engagement with corporations can be highly effective in increasing financial performance and compelling real, positive change in corporate policies and practices.

Learn more about IEN’s work supporting colleges and universities in utilizing their power as shareholders by engaging in our Shareholder Engagement Initiative, or contacting [email protected].

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