ShareAction Q&A: Have challenging conversations

The director of corporate engagement Simon Rawson on escalating engagement strategies

What progress has ShareAction seen in asset management engagement this year?

This year has seen record numbers of shareholder resolutions around environmental and social issues, but this isn’t a straightforward indication of progress.

There has been growing investor scrutiny on banks for their role in climate change and fossil fuel financing, with resolutions filed at most of the large American, European and British banks. Workers’ rights have also gained greater recognition from shareholders. We co-ordinated the UK’s first-ever Living Wage resolution at Sainsbury’s, which led to a pay uplift for around 19,000 workers (see the video below for more).

Unfortunately, it’s still a very small number of environmental and social resolutions that secure significant levels of voter support. We wait to see how asset managers have voted on critical ESG resolutions this year, but there are signs that some may be backtracking on earlier commitments.

Arguments advanced to support this include the post-pandemic economic pressure and spiralling energy prices as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The politicisation and polarisation of ESG in the US has seen asset managers trying to play both sides on sustainability. But the fundamental challenges, such as climate change and social inequality, remain significant systemic risks for investors.

Read the full Q&A in ESG Clarity’s September 2022 digital magazine.

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Natasha Turner

Natasha is global deputy editor at ESG Clarity, part of the Bonhill Group, and has been a financial journalist for six years. She has been shortlisted for Story of the Year and Investment Journalist of...