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A voting season like no other

Companies and investors went into the 2020 voting season reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. With many companies opting for virtual shareholder meetings, how did investors ensure their concerns about climate change, diversity and human rights risks were addressed?

In this episode of Amplified, Amy Wilson, an engager at EOS, talks to Bruce Duguid, head of stewardship at EOS, about how we revised our voting policies ahead of the annual shareholder meeting season, to reflect the new reality. This meant striking a balance between advancing our long-term engagement agenda while understanding and supporting the efforts that companies were making to manage through the pandemic.

“You don’t necessarily want to carry out major surgery to a board and remove a director during a time of crisis. However, where we had serious or urgent concerns, we opposed as normal,” Duguid says.

Wilson also speaks to fellow engager Roland Bosch about the virtual or hybrid meetings that we saw some companies adopt, highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of these. He also talks about the climate-related resolutions at UK bank Barclays.

“Given that investors have overwhelmingly supported Barclays’ climate strategy and ambition, the next phase of the engagement will focus on holding it to account for delivering against that strategic intent,” he notes.

Finally, Wilson talks to Christine Chow, another engager at EOS, about the shareholder proposal we co-filed at Alphabet. This called for the board to establish a committee to oversee human rights risks at the company.

Although the company’s share structure meant the proposal was unlikely to pass it received approximately 45% of the independent votes. “We considered this a very positive outcome, in support of our ongoing engagement,” Chow says.

To find out more, tune in to Amplified. And to read an in-depth article about the 2020 voting season, visit our dedicated web page, where you can download a copy of the Q2 Public Engagement Report.

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