AGM Activism: FAQ
What is an AGM and what happens there?
At the annual general meeting (AGM) of a publicly listed company, shareholders are allowed access to a world rarely seen outside the boardroom. Ordinary people like us can sit face-to-face with the CEOs and boards of big companies such as Shell, Ocado, RBS and more. It’s an opportunity for shareholders to ask questions, hear reports from the previous year and vote on resolutions, which do things like approve the board’s pay and pass their accounts. Sometimes investors file their own resolutions to try and shape the future of the organisation on issues like the climate crisis – such as the one we filed at Barclays.
At ShareAction, we use this opportunity to ask questions, and hold the company to account on a range of social and environmental issues; it’s an excellent campaigning tool which we use to put the issues that matter on the corporate agenda. Each year we organise questions at over 100 AGMs in the UK and Europe – and we need volunteers like you to go along and ask them!
What is a shareholder?
A shareholder is someone who owns one or more shares in a company, through either a broker or the company directly. Being a shareholder normally allows you access to the AGM of a publicly listed company (although sometimes you need more than one!) and allows you to vote on resolutions at the AGM.
What does being an AGM activist for ShareAction involve?
As an AGM activist, we will support you throughout your journey. From giving you training, to collating all the paperwork you need to access the AGM, as well as providing ‘how-to’ guides and answering any questions you may have before the AGM. All we ask is that you attend the AGM, ask a question from one of our campaigns (which we will write for you!) and enjoy the sandwiches and mingling with the other shareholders and board members after the AGM has finished!
We challenge boards on a range of topics – from climate change, to healthy food, the living wage and more.
How long do AGMs last?
AGMs can last anywhere from ten minutes to three hours, and sometimes all day for the bigger ones! If you do decide you’d like to go to an AGM, we should be able to give you an idea of how long it has been in previous years.
If I can’t attend AGMs, how else can I help?
Do you own any company shares? Our supporters lend us their shares to attend even more AGMs, as well as increasing our numbers at them. Please get in touch if you’re interested in lending us your shares. We couldn’t attend some of the biggest AGMs in the numbers we do without this support.
You can also make a change through your pension – did you know your pension could be funding the climate crisis? Learn more about the power of your pension here and see what action you can take!
Want to support our work but don’t have the time to be an AGM activist? No problem! You can donate here!
How many people attend AGMs?
It depends on the size of the company, but it can range anywhere from ten to hundreds. However, we should be able to let you know if it’ll be a big crowd.
How many AGMs do you attend each year?
We normally ask around 100 questions each year at different AGMs.
I’ve never been to an AGM, do you offer training?
Yes! Around April time, we offer training sessions for aspiring AGM activists – sign up here to our AGM activism mailing list to get notified when they are, along with opportunities to be an AGM activist.
If you’re an organisation looking for AGM training, get in touch – we can put on a training for you for a small fee.
Do you borrow shares from other organisations?
Yes, we can do, and we also lend our shares to other organisations too.
Can I borrow a share to ask my own question at an AGM?
You can ask questions on the topics that matter to you too, either by borrowing our shares if we have them available, or by buying your own share and arranging your own attendance. If we have a share available and your question aligns with our values you’re welcome to use it. Please contact our Campaigns Officer Jo, who will be able to get you set up.
Is being an AGM activist scary?
Being an AGM activist can be daunting the first time. However, with practice, you’ll soon get used to it – and remember, as a shareholder (or a proxy, borrowing the share), you have a right to be there! Read about the experience of some of our AGM activists here.
Do I need previous experience to be an AGM activist?
Not at all. If you can’t make our training sessions, we will happily give you a call and chat through the process, so that you’re ready and prepared for your first day of AGM activism!
Does AGM activism work?
Absolutely – we’ve had some big wins thanks to ordinary folk going along and asking questions to company boards! 37 of the biggest 100 companies now pay the real Living Wage to their staff – up from 3 when we started campaigning in 2011. And huge organisations including Vodafone and BT have signed up to source 100% renewable electricity.