Executive compensation. Incentive plans. Increasing numbers of common stock. Accelerated vesting of equity awards. Vote tabulation. These are corporate phrases that I rarely paid attention to before. Understanding that I felt a call to justice work, I had no need to surround myself with corporate verbiage and technical terms that I assumed would never affect me. Yet my role as Justice Promoter has quickly transformed me into a pseudo-corporate detective as I work with our proxies and our socially responsible investments.
Signing petitions, writing letters, calling legislators, and walking in marches are all ways to support just causes and make our collective voice heard. Yet we know there is beauty in diversity, and we can find multiple, effective ways to bring about change. One of those ways is through shareholder action.
As much as I wish we could easily change the system by changing hearts, telling stories, and forming relationships (and that is often an effective avenue to change!), I also realize that money talks, especially in the corporate boardroom. As shareholders, we have the ability to advocate for issues that are important to us and hold corporations accountable. We can ensure they know they have a responsibility to take care of their employees, to take care of the Earth, and to take care of all those they serve.
Investors have advocated for policy changes that have proved very effective over the long-term (although they are often slow victories to win, as is most systemic change work). Shareholder advocacy has been very effective in getting businesses to adopt sustainability standards and greenhouse gas emission limits, committing to sustainable sourcing, adopting human rights policies, and addressing supply chain risks. We now find ourselves at a critical time to protect the victories we’ve achieved through shareholder advocacy and ensure shareholders have a voice that will continue to be heard. Currently, before the House Financial Services Committee, there is a bill called the Financial CHOICE Act. Part of the legislation would curb the ability of small investors to bring issues to a shareholder vote during annual meetings. As shareholders, we have a moral responsibility to stand up for those without a voice at the table. Please click to review a letter about the Financial Choice Act and actions you can take today.