SRI and ESG Investors Advocacy-US SIF Foundation

SRI and ESG Investors Advocacy

From the US SIF Foundation


From 2018 through the first half of 2020, 149 institutional investors and 56 investment managers collectively controlling nearly $2.0 trillion in assets at the start of 2020 filed or co-filed shareholder resolutions on ESG issues. See Figures B and I.

Figure B-Sustainable Investing Assets 2020-Fig B-US SIF Foundation

  • As shown in Figure J, below the leading issue raised in shareholder proposals, based on the number of proposals filed, from 2018 through 2020, was corporate political activity. Investors filed 270 proposals on this subject from 2018 through 2020. These resolutions focused on company contributions aimed at influencing elections or on corporate lobbying to influence laws and regulations. Many of the targets were companies that have supported lobbying organizations that oppose regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Fig-I-Types of Investors Filing Shareholder Proposals 2018–2020-US SIF

  • Fair labor and equal employment opportunity issues also rose to the top, with shareholders filing 228 proposals between 2018 and 2020, which included several resolutions calling for gender pay equity.
  • A surge in shareholder proposals on climate change that began in 2014, as investors wrestled with the prospects of “stranded” carbon assets and US and global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, has continued: 217 proposals were filed from 2018 through 2020.
  • The proportion of shareholder proposals on social and environmental issues that receive high levels of support has been trending upward as well. During the proxy seasons of 2012-2014, only two shareholder proposals on environmental and social issues that were opposed by management received majority support, while 26 such proposals received majority support in 2018 through 2020.
  • Investors are engaging in other ways than filing shareholder resolutions. A subset of survey respondents, including 44 institutional asset owners with more than $1 trillion in total assets and 77 money managers with $7.8 trillion in assets under management, reported that they engaged in dialogue with companies on ESG issues.

Figure J–Leading ESG Issues 2018_2020 by Number of Shareholder Proposals Filed

SRI Trends Report 2020-US SIF-Cover

Order a copy of the Report on US Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends 2020 from the US SIF.

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