Own Stocks? You Have Proxy Power!

Submitted by egreene on April 3, 2019

The spring shareholder season is well-underway, with nearly 400 shareholder resolutions filed at publicly traded corporations on a broad array of social, environmental, and corporate governance issues. 

If you own company stock directly, rather than through a mutual fund, you can vote on the resolutions coming before the company.¬†(Mutual fund investors ‚Äď see the note below.) Don‚Äôt toss aside those shareholder mailings ‚Äď even if they look arduous. Voting your proxies is an important responsibility of stock ownership and allows you to express your agreement or disagreement on key issues facing the company. Be sure to read your proxy ballots carefully ‚Äď there may be issues you don‚Äôt want to¬†miss¬†voting on.¬†

Did you know: 

  • Bank of America and Facebook are among the companies facing a resolution on gender and minority pay disparity?¬†¬†
  • Chevron¬†is facing¬†a resolution on the human right to water?¬†
  • Duke Energy investors can vote on the need for a report on coal risks?¬†
  • ExxonMobil is one of many companies¬†where shareholders can vote on¬†a resolution seeking a report on its election spending?¬†
  • Wal-Mart investors can vote to support adoption of a policy on prison labor in the company‚Äôs supply chain?¬†

Concerned investors have filed these and many other resolutions to urge companies to improve their practices and policies in crucial ways affecting people and the planet. We’ve highlighted a number of the companies and some of the resolutions before them to give you a snapshot of the spring proxy votes. 

 For information on recent shareholder trends and background on the resolutions you may see on your proxy ballots, be sure to download your free copy of the 2019 Proxy Preview. Green America is pleased to co-sponsor this report -- it is truly a must-read for investors who want to understand the scope of the proxy season on social, environmental, and corporate governance concerns. 

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Not sure how to interpret your proxy ballot? Our infographic can help! 

Support for key resolutions affecting people and the planet is growing, with average support now exceeding 25%. As a reminder, double-digit support for these resolutions is enough to send a strong message to the company. It only takes 3% support to allow a new resolution to be brought before a company again, 6% support in the second year, and 10% support in the third year. 

If you follow us on¬†Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you'll see our campaign to raise awareness for the importance of voting your proxies.¬†Please share posts that¬†convey¬†why you vote, to¬†encourage¬†others¬†to do the same.‚ÄĮGo to the¬†resolution list, and click on the "I voted!" digital sticker to¬†share and let people know you're proud to raise your voice on important issues as a shareholder.‚ÄĮ¬†

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So whenever your proxy ballots arrive -- be sure to vote your proxies and vote your values! 

Note to mutual fund investors: If you own mutual funds, the fund manager does the proxy voting for you. Since you are the share owner, however, it’s important to know how your fund company is voting on your behalf and to decide if you agree with those votes. On the fund company’s website, at the SEC’s website, or by calling investor relations at the fund company you can obtain a record of the actual votes cast by the fund company. If you disagree with the votes be sure to let the fund manager know. As the 2019 Proxy Preview notes, a number of mutual funds are now voting their proxies in support of shareholder resolutions on climate change, gun control, and the opioid crisis. Be sure your fund manager is voting in support of your values and not against them!  

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