Proxy Preview 2019 reveals intensified shareholder pressure on corporations across a wide range of ESG issues from climate and political spending to women. Investors with a conscience; we are having a bigger impact every year. Download the report and/or watch webinar here. Continue Reading →
Tag Archives | Zevin Asset Management
The Board at Berry Global Group ($BERY) is moving toward more democratic governance, thanks to the efforts of a retail shareholder who would be denied the right to file proposals if the Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and others had their way. The Berry Global Group has adopted proposals submitted by the same small retail shareholder three years in a row. Together, the Board and a small retail shareholder are making a good company even better.
This year, in response to a proposal we filed on behalf of my wife, Myra Young, the Board of the Berry Global Group amended its bylaws and governance guidelines to require a majority vote for directors running in uncontested elections and further requiring that unsuccessful nominees tender their resignation. (8-K filed November 30). We are gladly withdrawing the proposal, which was implemented in full. Continue Reading →
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), together with its subsidiaries, operates as an entertainment company worldwide.
The Walt Disney Company is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on March 8, 2017.
Anti-hypocrisy proposals could be the most important ones of the season. I purchased shares on Franklin Resources (BEN) so that I could file anti-hypocrisy proposals, of the same variety we get to vote on at the February 15, 2017, annual meeting. I had not owned my shares for a year as of the filing deadline last year, so did not submit a proposal. Fortunately, other shareholders have submitted exactly the type of anti-hypocrisy proposals I would have put forward. I will concentrate on the first anti-hypocrisy proposals and will cover the other items only briefly.
Votes at funds, like Franklin Resources, are especially important since the votes these funds cast at annual meetings drive the outcomes. We can’t expect to win important issues like Majority vote provisions to elect directors, requested reports on climate change activities or voting down outrageous pay packages until huge funds like Franklin Resources vote with us. Large commercial funds, such as Franklin Resources, often have a built-in conflict of interest. They want to service corporate clients, so do not want to offend corporate managers. At the same time, as investors in their funds, we want them to monitor management and be critical when that is in our best interest. These resolutions seek better alignment between the interest of investors in funds offered by Franklin Resources and the proxy positions taken by those funds. Continue Reading →
I don’t own ExxonMobil $XOM stock or the stock of any other oil companies, so won’t be examining their proxy when it comes out or making voting recommendations. However, oil companies do remain a potent economic force and won’t be going away anytime soon… even though folks like me hope to be driving around in electric cars fueled by the sun and wind within a few years.
ExxonMobil may be a special case, since they appear to have essentially funded a disinformation campaign on climate change for many years. See Exxon Knew, among many other sources and campaigns. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at shareholder proposals grappling with the beast. If you own stock in ExxonMobil and want to be a responsible fiduciary, how do you get them to take climate change seriously?
Since the proxy hasn’t been published, I don’t know what proposals will be included. However, ExxonMobil requested four no-action letters from the SEC that were refused. Let’s look at those. Continue Reading →
Publisher’s note: I wasn’t going to publish anything today but I couldn’t resist this recent news from Sanford Lewis, Esq. and Sonia Kowai of Zevin Asset Management about a denial of a no-action letter that allows shareholders to hold mutual funds to account. Imagine what the world could look like if mainstream funds lived up to their own hype.
This is the perfect reason for Thanksgiving and is the best news I’ve heard all year. For the first time we have the possibility that mutual funds might be so embarrassed by the wide gap between what they say and what they do that they may actually start voting as their investors would wish. This is a real game changer and could be the start of something HUGE if similar proposals are filed at other fund companies and shareholders hold them accountable.
Climate change is the first issue, and is critically important, but there are other issues to address as well. Many thanks to Sanford Lewis, Sonia Kowal of Zevin Asset Management LLC,, Jackie Cook of Fund Votes, Ceres, First Affirmative Financial Network, and everyone who worked to obtain these critical new rights. Continue Reading →
It is wonderful to have supportive friends, especially when they represent socially responsible investors and advisors. John Chevedden, Myra K. Young and James McRitchie extend sincere thanks to the following for sending letters of concern regarding their recent lawsuits against us to: EMC Corp, Omnicom, Express Scripts, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.: Continue Reading →
A series of strong shareholder votes have sent a clear message that natural gas companies must do much more to address fugitive methane leakage and management. Shareholder proposals asking Houston-based Spectra Energy $SE, Tulsa-based Oneok $OKE, and Fort Worth-based Range Resources $RRC to issue reports on how they are managing high-climate-change-impact methane emissions have received favorable votes from company shareholders: 35.4%, 38.2%, and 21.7% respectively. These are the first proposals directly addressing how leaking methane affects the environmental profile of natural gas, calling on companies to disclose leakage rates and mitigation strategies. Continue Reading →