Posts tagged Proxy Preview
Report: Customer insights, power purchasing, proxy preview and more

Proxy Preview 2018 (As You Sow, the Sustainable Investments Institute and Proxy Impact) features more than 400 shareholder resolutions filed on environmental, social and governance issues. The top three shareholder issues are political activity spending (80 resolutions), climate risk (80 resolutions) and equal treatment for women (70 resolutions). The 125 corporate signatories to the RE100 campaign need to add 87 gigawatts of new wind and solar power capacity worldwide by 2030 to meet their 100 percent renewable energy commitments, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance research. The report suggests that not all of the RE100 members will meet their commitment.

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Environment, corporate political spending top proxy season list

The environment and corporate political spending remain key issue areas for shareholder proposals this proxy season, although a number of proposals have also been filed on the opioid crisis, the gender pay gap, and workplace and corporate board diversity, said a report Thursday from non-profit shareholder advocacy groups As You Sow, Sustainable Investments Institute and Proxy Impact.

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It looks like this year will be big for investor activism

"Many companies, especially leaders on environmental and social issues and good corporate governance, are not leaping to end transparency, halt engagements and block shareholder input," said As You Sow CEO Andrew Behar in the report. "Instead, they look to investor advocates to uncover win-win situations that benefit all stakeholders."

In 2017, As You Sow submitted a shareholder proposal for and Target to issue a report about the environmental impacts of foam packing materials. This included "quantifying the amount that could reach the environment, the potential for increased risk of adverse health effects to marine animals and humans."

A similar proposal was made to McDonald’s, which has swapped "polystyrene foam beverage cups" for "foam packing."

As You Sow said on its website that it uses resolutions as a way to leverage the power of stock ownership in publicly traded companies to promote environmental, social and governance change from within.

Resolutions are placed on the company’s proxy, and any shareholder owning at least 1 percent, or $2,000 worth of stock, for at least a year is allowed to bring up a shareholder proposal. 

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Shareholders Ready To Fight For 'Hard-Won Gains'

Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, emphasized that shareholder proponents remain committed to “protecting hard-won gains” that form from their relationships with corporations -- especially since the new administration is “bent on cutting government regulations and rolling back legislation on everything from financial reform to healthcare and the environment,” he said.

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Butler: The beginner’s guide to taking on the system

One of the earliest examples was a Catholic priest who used his stockholder prerogative to force R.J. Reynolds to stop aiming its “Joe Camel” advertising at kids. Then there was the activist group As You Sow, which prompted McDonald’s to stop using plastic foam cups for the 775 billion drinks sold per year. Considering that the ocean’s plastic will weigh more than the fish by 2050, this seems like a sensible step — but the kind of step corporations ruled by increasing quarterly profits are not inclined to take on their own.

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As You SowProxy Preview
Danielle Fugere: Avoiding the fossil fuel cliff

As You Sow’s Carbon Asset Transition, or “CAT” resolution, requesting that oil companies’ energy resources be accounted for, by category, in resource-neutral energy units as well as barrels of oil, could have profound implications for the future. It allows oil and gas companies to decouple their asset base from a sole focus on fossil fuel reserves and incentivizes their transition into becoming energy companies ready to thrive in a low carbon economy.

Recognizing that an orderly transition to a clean energy future must be facilitated, As You Sow’s Carbon Asset Transition proposal is a crucial first step: by decoupling traditional oil and gas company value from a sole focus on carbon-based asset replacement, companies will have an opportunity and incentive to become truly diversified energy companies providing large-scale clean energy. In addition to directly engaging companies with this resolution and working with other energy companies on voluntarily reporting in BTUs, As You Sow will also file a petition with the SEC. The petition will request the SEC add an energy-neutral metric to its current reporting requirement for oil and gas companies. Such a change would help free these companies from their oilcentric focus, which made sense historically but whose time is now past.

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The Power of a Shareholder Proxy

But ordinary investors are also shifting corporate strategy, especially with regard to sustainability practices involving clean energy, climate change and ethical labor. And they're getting results. In 2011, individual investors tagged onto a proposal by the social and environmental advocacy organization As You Sow to convince McDonald’s to replace its polystyrene foam beverage cups with more eco-friendly paper containers.

The easiest way for individual investors to make an impact is to use their proxy vote to support and amplify proposals already put forward by other investors. If you owned stock in Abbott Laboratories last year, for example, you might have wanted to add your vote to As You Sow’s resolution to offer U.S. consumers GMO-free baby formula. If you own stock in Chesapeake Energy, you might want to support the resolution proposed by the Connecticut Office of the State Treasurer to disclose the company’s spending on direct and indirect lobbying.

Environmental and social topics represented the largest number of shareholder proposals submitted in 2015. A record-breaking 433 social and environmental shareholder resolutions were filed in 2015, according to ProxyPreview, a free online report generated by corporate responsibility organizations As You Sow, Sustainable Investments Institute, and Proxy Impact.

A big block of stock isn't necessary to shift company policy, says Andrew Behar, chief executive of As You Sow.

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