ESG Insider April 9 is the most recent S&P Global podcast. Co-hosts Lindsey White and Esther Whieldon interview the sponsors of several new proxy proposals. As a shareholder advocate trying to get the word out on my own proposals, I found it interesting and informative. Last season I participated in Tesla Investor Briefing 2020 AGM with a similar purpose. Both formats have advantages and disadvantages. We can expect more of both over time. Corporate boards and managers dominate annual shareholder meetings. At virtual meetings, they cannot even have side conversations unless boards want to offer chat rooms. So far, none have.
Shareholders need other venues that allow more than a couple of minutes to explain complex issues and provide an opportunity for dialogue. These can be done on a company-by-company basis, especially at companies like Amazon.com, with a large number of proposals. Or it can be on an issue-by-issue basis, as ESG Insider April 9 has done in their podcast.
ESG Insider April 9 Description
Heading into the 2021 proxy season, investors are increasingly focused on equity issues, climate change, and the broader role of companies in society. Shareholders filed at least 435 ESG-related shareholder proposals for the 2021 proxy season, according to the respected Proxy Preview report.
In this episode, we explore three emerging shareholder proposals.
One asks companies to give investors a “Say on climate,” a variation on “Say on pay” resolutions that gained traction after the 2008 financial crisis. To learn more, we talk with Chris Hohn, a British billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist behind the “Say on climate” resolution.
We also hear from Tejal Patel, corporate governance director at CtW Investment Group, which is behind a resolution asking companies to perform racial equity audits.
“Even the most well-meaning board might be missing certain ways that their policies affect communities of color,” Tejal says. Financial institutions, in particular, need to look for those blind spots “because they play such a critical role in our economy and in our society.”
And we look at a proposal that asks companies to become “public benefit corporations” to further advance stakeholder capitalism. Stakeholder capitalism posits that companies are responsible for their role in society in addition to making money for shareholders, and the idea has gained traction in recent years.
I filed one Say on Climate proposal at Union Pacific (withdrawn in favor of a similar filing by the Children’s Investment Master Fund). Union Pacific lost their no-action request, so if you own Union Pacific stock you will get a chance to vote on it.
The discussion on public benefit corporations (PBCs) was with Frederick Alexander of The Shareholder Commons. See proposal list as of March. I am working with them on PBC proposals at the following:
- S&P Global (SPG) 5/5/21
- Tractor Supply (TSCO) 5/6/21
- United Parcel Service (UPS) 5/12/21
- Facebook (FB) 5/26/21
- Alphabet (GOOGL)
- BlackRock (BLK)
- Caterpillar (CAT)
- Yelp (YELP)
Other Recent Podcasts
Aside from the ESG Insider April 9 podcast, others of interest include:
- Pitchfork Economics with Nick Hanauer had an interesting conversation with Mike Konczal, Director of Progressive Thought at the Roosevelt Institute about winning back our freedom from the market.
- The Business Scholarship Podcast discussed Codetermination in Theory and Practice with Grant Hayden and Matthew Bodie. I will draw from that paper to support my proposal to empower employees, filed at several companies. The empirical research they cite on codetermination demonstrates the system’s efficiency, resilience, and benefits to stakeholders.
- Not a podcast but I want to let readers know of a double Book Launch Party. 21st Century Investing: Redirecting Financial Strategies to Drive Systems Change and Moving Beyond Modern Portfolio Theory: Investing That Matters. Virtual: April 13 at 7:00 pm London/1:00 pm.
- What Does it Profit discusses a global movement inspired by the Pope.
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