Unlocking the power of the investment system
Shifting companies to use 100% renewable power
Following our question at Tesco’s 2016 AGM when we proposed that the supermarket giant switch to using 100% renewable power in its worldwide operations, we were ecstatic when Tesco made a big announcement it would do just that in May this year. Tesco is one of the largest energy users in the FTSE 100. ShareAction has been co-ordinating shareholder engagement with some of the world’s biggest companies to urge them to use 100% renewable power. We’re working closely with allies on this, such as CDP, the Climate Group and We Mean Business. Our RE100 investor group has swelled through 2017 and now includes 51 investors in nine countries. Other major companies to make the same commitment in 2017, following our AGM questions and letters, include: Anheuser-Busch InBev (the world’s biggest brewer), Telefonica and Burberry. There are now over 100 RE100 companies. They are creating around 146 terawatt-hours (TWh) in demand for renewable electricity annually – about as much as it takes to power Poland.
Encouraging companies to pay all staff at least a real Living Wage
2017 was the sixth year that ShareAction posed questions at FTSE 100 AGMs in support of the real Living Wage. And yet again we achieved some great results. Ashtead, ConvaTec, Diageo, Informa, and Landsec all accredited as Living Wage employers this year following shareholder engagement by some of their largest institutional investors, co-ordinated by ShareAction. 33 of the FTSE 100 are now accredited. As a result, 15,000 employees have received a pay rise equating to a combined total of £60 million. Our fabulous long-term partnership with the Living Wage Foundation sees us mobilise powerful shareholders in support of the Living Wage, while our friends at the foundation take care of all the technicalities, as companies sign up and make the Living Wage leap. Once again, feedback from companies has been hugely positive. The CEO of Ashtead said this: “Why should we give our drivers, mechanics, guys who sweep the yard and wash the equipment much better pay? Because we are dependent on every single one of them doing relatively routine tasks on a very regular basis. There is no substitute to that.”
Investing in sustainable food systems around the world
We got a super-sized win in our sustainable food campaign with the FAIRR initiative. In August, McDonald’s announced it would end the use of critically important antibiotics from its global chicken supply chain, starting in January 2018. The decision followed pressure from major investors and pension savers, co-ordinated by ShareAction and FAIRR, and from campaigning NGOs and consumers. It’s a great win for human health, and the fight against rising antibiotics resistance; and is a step towards improved conditions for chickens living in tiny cages and inhumane conditions.
Shining a light on European banks’ management of climate risk
This year, ShareAction began a new programme of shareholder activism to push the largest banks in the world to swing their enormous power behind a speedy transition to a low-carbon economy. Just like major investors, banks are critical players in the fight against climate change. In addition to giving the issue profile at the AGMs of Europe’s major banks, ShareAction researched the climate performance of Europe’s largest 15 banks and published a ranking, five days before President Macron’s One Planet Summit. Our report got strong coverage in the Financial Times, City AM, and national Italian and French newspapers, and resulted in several of the banks committing to do better. Check out the press release by Spanish bank BBVA. There’s much more to do, but this high impact project is already making waves.
Using shareholder rights to highlight risks and opportunities with companies
The stories above capture just some of the amazing work undertaken this year at company AGMs. Empowering people to ask smart questions of corporate directors on issues that matter to them – and to get the answers they want – is central to ShareAction’s purpose. This year we ran six training events to help people build their skills for AGM activism. As a result, over 140 questions were asked at the AGMs of companies in nine countries. Many questions were on issues ShareAction is directly campaigning on but we helped lots of others too, like Swedish NGO, SwedWatch, who grilled British American Tobacco about child labour in its supply chain; UNLOCK, the NGO supporting ex-offenders, who asked a question at Royal Mail about recruitment policies; and Vodafone, who got a question from US-based NGO, Access Now, on internet shutdowns, which pose a growing threat to human rights in places where the internet is critical to civil society action and freedom of expression. ShareAction is immensely proud to support civil society organisations get heard by the people running the world’s most powerful companies.