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2016 AGM Season: Key Votes Spotlight

Active ownership and responsible investment include the exercise of shareholder rights. Shareholder voting is a primary way for investors to influence a company’s operations, and its impacts on society at large. For pension funds, these voting rights are often exercised by proxy. Proxy voting is therefore a powerful opportunity for action to promote labour values, human rights, and ESG principles.

For 2016, the CWC is shining a spotlight on two important shareholder proposal campaigns:

Pearson: a shareholder proposal has been filed by a trans-Atlantic alliance of pension funds, including UNISON’s Staff Pension Fund, the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, and others, for the company to conduct a thorough review of its business strategy, including education commercialization, support of high stakes testing and low-fee private schools. 


Remedies for Human Rights Violations: the AFL-CIO has filed a shareholder proposal at several companies – including Mondelez, Reynolds American, Philip Morris, Altria, Universal, and Alliance One – urging these companies to agree to participate in mediation of any alleged violations of human rights if request by the OECD national contact point. (Part of AFL-CIO’s four-fold focus – more info)

What Trustees Can Do

Active ownership and responsible investment include the exercise of shareholder rights. Shareholder voting is a primary way for investors to influence a company’s operations, and its impacts on society at large. For pension funds, these voting rights are often exercised by proxy. Proxy voting is therefore a powerful opportunity for action to promote labour values, human rights, and ESG principles. Trustees can play an important role in ensuring the responsible investment of workers capital by monitor how service providers are casting proxy votes on the fund’s behalf.

Some actions that trustees can take to exercise active shareholding include:

  • Provide a list of CWC key votes and background materials to your funds staff and ask your staff to tell you how they are voting on these key campaigns.
  • What are your proxy voting guidelines? Does a committee oversee this? Check what you have and if you don’t have active guidelines in place, check out the resources below.

Proxy voting guidelines - resources:

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