By Jo Weightman, Campaigns Officer – Individuals, ShareAction
Pull up your socks it’s that time of year again – AGM Season 2020 is upon us.
At the annual general meeting (AGM) of a publicly listed company, ordinary people like us can sit face-to-face with the CEO’s and boards of big companies. All you need is one share – and we’ve bought one in all the biggest companies.
Our money – through our pension savings – is invested in the biggest companies. We reckon you deserve a voice in how these companies are behaving. We’ll be organising over 100 questions at the AGMs of the biggest UK companies from now until July. But we can’t do this without our AGM activist supporters who go along to the AGMs to ask the questions.
Do you want to ask one of our questions at an AGM? Sign up to become an AGM activist today!
Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, we have been told that AGMs are being planned business as usual. We expect this to change, with companies potentially opting for an online meeting. We’ll still need volunteers to attend these!
Here’s five AGMs we’ll be keeping a close eye on this spring.
Barclays – 7 May
In December 2019, ShareAction, 11 institutional investors and 131 individual investors filed a shareholder resolution at Barclays.
Barclays is Europe’s largest fossil fuel financier and the world’s sixth. According to the Rainforest Action Network, it provided more than US$85 billion of fossil fuel financing between 2016-2018 – exceeding its peers to the tune of US$27 billion.
This landmark resolution – the first climate change resolution filed at a UK bank – asks the bank to align its energy financing with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. It will be voted on at the bank’s AGM on 7 May in Glasgow. ShareAction and institutional investors will be at the AGM to press the company to take the resolution seriously.
Our supporter Doug set up a change.org petition to show support for the resolution. Can you sign it?
IHG – early May
Forty of the FTSE100 are now accredited Living Wage employers – up from just two when ShareAction started asking AGM questions in 2013. Living Wage employers commit to paying their staff a wage that meets the true cost of living.
This year we will continue to keep the pressure on the UK’s largest companies, including International Hotels Group (IHG) – the parent company of many well-known hotel brands including Holiday Inn.
IHG reneged on their pledge to become a Living Wage employer; a pledge which helped them secure the title of official hotels provider of the 2012 London Olympics.
Morrisons – mid June
In collaboration with our Healthy Markets campaign, the Access to Nutrition Index recently published a study assessing what the UK’s top 10 retailers are doing to tackle childhood obesity. The results showed that while most retailers acknowledge their role in promoting healthy diets, the level of disclosure on actions taken is poor across the board.
So, this AGM season we’ll be asking UK retailers to be more transparent and do more.
One key AGM will be Morrisons, who out of the publicly listed retailers had one of the lowest scores in our assessment, disclosing on just 20% of all the indicators.
A third of children in the UK are overweight or obese. It’s important that Morrisons are transparent with both investors and the public on how it plans to increase healthy eating.
Anglo-American – 5 May
This AGM season we will continue to keep gender on the agenda of FTSE350 companies by asking them to put in place time bound targets to reduce the gender pay gap year on year.
We’ll be targeting companies in the finance sector, which has the second largest gender pay gap by sector. However, we’ll be paying particularly close attention at Anglo-American, where women’s mean hourly wage is 50.1% lower than men.
Last year the chair told us that this ‘must be addressed’ – yet the gap has only come down 2% since then.
BAE Systems – early May
We’re trying something new this year. As well as just asking questions on our campaigns, we want to give our supporters the opportunity to ask the questions they want to ask.
So, for our share at BAE Systems – we’ll be asking individual supporters to write and submit questions, which will then get voted on by our whole supporter base. The winning question will get asked at the AGM.
Do you have a question for BAE Systems? Do so here!
We’re also doing the same thing for Centrica and British American Tobacco – let us know what you think we should be asking them!
Inspired to go to an AGM? Tell us which of our campaign topics you’d like to ask a question on here – and we’ll get back to you with a list of AGMs you could go to.
Want to find out more? We’ll be hosting some online training to answer outstanding questions and make sure you are prepped. You can sign-up via the below links.
Or get in touch with email@example.com to have a training over the phone.