Kosmas Papadopoulos, ISS Analytics: ISS Discusses U.S. Proxy Voting Trends from 2000 to 2018: Environmental and Social Issues, February 2019

Kosmas Papadopoulos, Managing Editor, ISS Analytics

Based on our analysis, the most significant change in investors’ voting behavior pertains to environmental and social issues, as these proposals are earning record levels of support in recent years. . . . The main drivers for changes in voting patterns on environmental and social issues are:

  • Increased momentum of UN PRI and other global policy initiatives focusing on ESG integration in finance;

  • Transition of debate on environmental and social issues from a values-based argument to longterm economic value and risk management; and

  • Urgency for action to tackle climate change, which was universally recognized as a significant risk and policy priority through the 2015 Paris Agreement.

As a result of these pressures, the data indicates a number of changes in proponent filings and proxy voting behavior on shareholder proposals:

  • More shareholders voting in support of environmental & social proposals, witnessed by the rapidly growing proportion of shareholder proposals receiving at least 30-percent support; and 

  • Increased willingness of companies and proponents to work together to forge a solution, supported by a record proportion of environmental and social proposals being withdrawn prior to the vote.

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