The power of the resolution
Shareholder resolutions are an essential tool in any investor’s toolkit. They set out clear, detailed asks for companies, and what investors expect from them.
We're facing a perfect storm of crises. Climate change is looming, fuelled by increased biodiversity loss, rising global energy prices and an increasing cost of living could throw millions more into poverty. Economic and health inequalities continue to widen worldwide.
It has never been more important for investors to use their shareholder power to hold companies to account. That’s why we team up with institutional investors and individuals to call out some of the world’s biggest companies for their role in fuelling environmental and social crises.
A call for Sainsbury's to pay a real Living Wage
We’ve joined 10 institutional investors and over 100 individuals to co-file a Living Wage resolution at the UK’s 2nd largest supermarket. The resolution would see Sainsbury’s become the first Living Wage accredited supermarket in the UK. If passed at the company’s AGM in July it would commit the companies to pay all its workers - including third-party contractors - a wage that meets the cost of living. Not just now - but in the future too.
This resolution comes at an important moment. Food banks are recording unprecedented numbers and some 2.5 million more families plunged into fuel poverty this spring. Those in low-paid work will be amongst the hardest hit. With the combination of higher National Insurance contributions, Universal Credit cuts, and a freeze on the income tax personal allowance, the average supermarket worker will be £1,040 worse off in 2022.
A first of its kind resolution at Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse is Europe’s fourth-largest fossil fuel funder. It is 19th globally. Since the Paris Agreement was signed in December 2015, it's provided some US$82.2 billion of finance to fossil fuel companies and projects. It remains the top financier of coal mining, and its oil and gas policy lags behind its European peers and best practice for the sector.
In 2022, we joined 11 investors, including some of Switzerland’s largest pension funds, to co-file a resolution urging it to clarify its strategy to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets, including publishing additional disclosures, fossil fuel policies, and targets to achieve this aim.
At the bank’s AGM, the board revealed that 18.52% of shareholders voted ‘FOR’ the investor-led climate resolution and a further 4.27% abstained. This is despite the board and two major proxy advisors, Glass Lewis and ISS, recommending a vote ‘AGAINST’ the resolution. This was a greater level of support than similar resolutions that were the first of their kind to be filed in other jurisdictions in recent years.
Escalating engagement secures new fossil fuel commitments at HSBC
HSBC made new climate commitments, to phase down its financing of fossil fuels in line with what’s required to limit global temperature rise of 1.5C. This includes a commitment to update its oil & gas policy in 2022 and to further revise its coal policy this year too. On top of this, HSBC has committed to updating the scope of its fossil fuel targets to cover capital markets - which represent the bulk of its financing to the fossil fuel sector.
This was a result of continued engagement with the bank from HSBC’s investors - including the filing of the second climate resolution in two years at HSBC earlier this year. We'll be closely watching as the bank looks to implement and operationalise these commitments.
Setting a global health precedent at Unilever
Unilever is one of the biggest food and drinks manufacturers in the world. Every day, some 2.5 billion people worldwide use their products - across 190 countries. The reach and impact of its products on our health is unprecedented.
That's why, this year, we teamed up with a global coalition of institutional investors – with combined assets under management (AUM) of $215 billion – and over 100 individual shareholders to co-file a health resolution at Unilever.
In response to our resolution, Unilever committed to disclosing the healthiness of its sales against major government-endorsed Nutrient Profile Models – as requested by our resolution - as well as its own internal metric. It will publish annual assessments of this data for 16 of its key strategic markets. The company has also agreed to set new stretching targets to grow the proportion of its healthier products by this date, in advance of its 2023 AGM – another key ask for its investors. The move sets a new precedent for global food manufacturers.