By George Hammond, Pension Power Organiser, and Aislinn Lambert, Shareholder Activism Coordinator, ShareAction
19 July 2016
Last Thursday, almost 100 of our closest allies from across the movement came together in a furniture warehouse on Brick Lane in London to celebrate another great year for Responsible Investment (RI). A lot of important steps were made in the last year to make the investment system a force for good. We took the opportunity to note a few of the leaders within the movement by presenting them with fun and quirky awards. Those awards are:
Ian Brindley: Getting it
As an AGM Army activist campaigning for the Living Wage and against factory farming, as well as an active trustee at the Environment Agency Pension Fund, Ian has shown enthusiasm for everything we do to reform the investment system and jumped in with both feet to help make it happen. Because of that, Ian snagged a handsome dot-to-dot book for joining the dots across all that we do.
Glyn Thomas: Digital heroism
As the patient genius behind the new ShareAction website, we couldn’t avoid recognising the immense contribution Glyn made to the movement by helping ShareAction present itself in a new and easy to navigate way. For an act of digital heroism, Glyn was awarded a one-of-a-kind “Digital Hero for Life” red cape.
Trevor Sharman: Existential AGM activist
Trevor is a devoted AGM activist. But this year, while thousands of savers were emailing their pension funds about Sir Martin Sorrell’s high pay packet, he decided to ask the most existential question ever presented at a corporate annual meeting. Specifically, he asked: “Mark Wilson, CEO of Aviva, states that one of his & Aviva’s core values is being a good ancestor. Would the Board & CEO of WPP share this ambition, and if so, what specific actions would they take to ensure this title from future generations?” For this question, we presented Trevor with the inaugural Rene Descartes award for most existential AGM question (including a book from the namesake).
Meryam Omi: Leading change from within
One of the things that makes our movement so strong is the combination of efforts to change the system from inside and out. Meryam has worked hard to further RI within the system and at Legal & General Investment Management, especially in the field of climate change. We awarded her the “RI cactus” for all the outcomes this kind of work has on protecting our environment.
Joel Kenrick: Getting the message out
One of our big moments in the 2016 AGM Season was a coordinated action with The Wilderness Society for our campaign calling on BP to stop their plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight. As well as briefing investors in the weeks before the AGM, we rocked up to the event itselfwith an army of people ready to raise their concerns with the Board. Joel’s hard work and support made sure everyone read about it in the newspapers. Because of that, we presented Joel with a mini-megaphone for being the loudest voice for RI.
Danny Gazzi: Most committed blogger
There is nothing like a story from a peer to help you understand what your role could be in a movement. We share those stories from all sorts of people on our blog page. This AGM Season, Danny has been our most committed blogger. And for that we awarded him with a stack of little notebooks so he can continue to write about his experiences on the front line at company AGMs.
Responsible Investor magazine: Fearless journalism
Holding investors and companies to account is a tough task. Trying to shine a light on vast, hugely wealthy, opaque bodies can be an uphill struggle. We handed out a torch to the team at Responsible Investor magazine as the spotlight award for fearless, relentless RI journalism.
Emily Bugden: Best CEO Selfie
AGM selfies are a big part of our movement’s shtick. There is nothing quite as daunting as having to casually snag a selfie at an AGM while other shareholders and company director stand around you, knowing that the face you make is going to be promoted across the movement. That said, CEO selfies are one amazing way of breaking down the barriers of intimidation associated with taking action in the investment system! For one fabulous selfie, we had to give this framed award of her own selfie to Emily.
Juliane Reinecke, Universities Superannuation Scheme: Extreme sticking power
We are all about long-term investment. A group who know a fair bit about that are the team of savers in the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Their campaign, launched almost two decades ago, was a major factor in USS building a Responsible Investment team. This year, the team secured multiple meetings with USS, most recently with the scheme’s top executives to discuss what the fund is doing about climate change. We recognised their work and Juliane’s role in the team by awarding her a pritt-stick for extreme sticking power to a campaign.
David Pitt-Watson: Most inspirational speech on RI
We know Responsible Investment can sometimes be a tricky topic to get people excited about, but not when they are listening to David. David gave a truly inspirational key-note speech at the launch of our European Responsible Investment Network in Berlin in June. For that, we awarded him a little book of inspiration to keep him on the right track. Do watch the video of his speech below!
Trevor Sharman, London Pension Fund Authority: Biggest growth spurt
There are more and more savers who want to use the power of their pensions to encourage institutional investors to invest responsibly, but no team of savers has grown quite as quickly as the one at the London Pension Fund Authority pension fund. Trebling their number, using the law to effect change and keeping pressure on the LPFA, this team has lead the way. We awarded member Trevor Sharman (again!) a bag of Miracle Gro for the biggest Pension Power growth spurt.
Barrie Stead: Lifetime achievement award
And finally, the award for the man who had been a shareholder activist since before ShareAction even existed. Barrie’s persistence in attending AGMs year on year, combined with his uncanny ability to charm boards of directors, has made him a true force to be reckoned with in the world of AGM activism, and he has contributed decisively to many important campaigns, most notably pushing companies to pay the Living Wage. And on top of all that, he’s helped to inspire a whole new generation of shareholder activists through his eerily accurate impressions of a company chairman at our AGM Army training sessions. We could think of no better way to recognise his immense contribution than with a classic “Keep calm I’m an AGM Activist” t-shirt.
ShareAction wouldn’t be anything without the thousands of people who offer their time and expertise to make sure the investment system becomes a force for good. This was our way of saying thank you. We hope to take action with many more of you in the coming year and see you at the 2017 Summer Party and award ceremony!
Thanks George & Ash! To find out more about the above, get in touch with our team here.