Shareholder activism is on the rise, but companies are fighting back

Washington (CNN Business) A standoff is brewing between investors, corporate boards and federal regulators as shareholders prepare to vote on resolutions that concern human rights, corporate governance, and climate change.

Bolstered by more industry-friendly federal regulators, corporate trade associations are lobbying for constraints on activist shareholders and so-called "political" resolutions. They also want to stymie proxy advisory firms, which many shareholders rely on for research and recommendations on how to vote.

"It's a shift, and the fact that shareholders are feeling empowered is I think uncomfortable for corporations, and that's why you're seeing them fight back," says Danielle Fugere, president of As you Sow, a non-profit that runs and consults on shareholder campaigns.