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Social issues rise up voting season agenda

EOS Insight
23 August 2022 |
This year’s voting season saw a rise in shareholder resolutions on social issues in North America and Europe, along with the mainstreaming of management-proposed say-on-climate votes. Amy Wilson and Laura Jernegan examine some of the key meetings and shareholder proposals.
Social issues rise up voting season agenda

This year we saw record numbers of shareholder proposals at major US companies, including many on social issues, against a backdrop of soaring inflation and a tumultuous political environment. These covered topics such as paid sick leave, employee representation on boards, reproductive rights risks, unionisation, and animal welfare, some of which were supported by high-profile campaigns.

In addition, more Civil Rights Audit, Racial Equity Audit, and Racial Justice Audit shareholder proposals were filed this proxy season, including at Chevron, Wells Fargo and Johnson & Johnson. In general, such proposals urged boards to oversee a third-party audit analysing the adverse impacts of companies’ policies and practices on the civil rights of companies’ stakeholders.

This was the second year for formal shareholder votes on companies’ responses to climate change, with a steep rise in management say-on-climate proposals, and new votes at BP, Anglo American and Rio Tinto. Shell and TotalEnergies also offered a chance to vote on the progress achieved since the 2021 proxy season.

We also saw a flurry of “no new fossil fuel” shareholder proposals at major financial institutions, largely based on the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Scenario. We assessed these on a case-by-case basis. While the non-binding nature of shareholder proposals in North America often enabled us to be supportive, certain proposals in other markets were overly-prescriptive.

Read the full article in our Q2 2022 Public Engagement Report.

Social issues rise up voting season agenda

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