Active ownership – primarily through engagement with investee companies and voting on the assets that we manage on behalf of clients – is an essential part of integrating sustainability into our investment process. We focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors that are financially material. Engagement and voting are key components of this, since it results in ESG improvements at the companies in which we invest, leading to long term value creation.
We began the year with five new engagement themes. One of those new themes focuses on tackling climate change by targeting the world’s biggest carbon emitters. As part of these efforts, we enjoyed success in spearheading engagement where we collaborated with other Climate Action 100+ investors. We persuaded Shell to link cuts in its carbon footprint to executive pay. This was the first time in the oil & gas sector. This unprecedented decision received global attention and provides a workable framework for affecting change at other companies within the sector.
Alliances such as the one with Climate Action 100+ are becoming increasingly important. Last year, we joined many new groups, including the Investor Alliance for Human Rights in the US, the Brazilian engagement platform AMEC, and closer to home, the Dutch Living Wage Financials platform.
We were just as busy with proxy voting, casting our votes on behalf of clients at more than 5,000 shareholder meetings. And this is by no means ‘rubber-stamping’ – we voted against at least one agenda item in over half the meetings at which we voted. These and other statistics, case studies and success stories are featured in the 2018 Active Ownership report detailing all our activities last year.
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