8 min read

How Green Is Your Money?

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Wow! The FWIW subscribers keep rolling in and we would like to thank everyone who is sharing and referring people to FWIW. To everyone who has joined us in the past few weeks, welcome! If you are new, here are a few links to resources and past stories that you might find interesting:

​​Happy Thursday!

It’s getting warmer in the United States, which means it’s proxy season! We know you were thinking spring, awards, baseball…but even though it doesn’t generate as much excitement and debate, proxy season is an important time for many shareholders. Here’s why.

Most companies hold their annual shareholder meetings around this time of year, and it’s when investors get to vote (without being present or via proxy) on big company decisions, like executive compensation and the appointment of board directors. They also weigh in on recommendations made by other shareholders. If you’re wondering how this process works, we've got you.

Investors increasingly want corporate boards and executives to consider what’s in the best interests of all stakeholders (employees, customers, the environment, etc.), alongside – and in many cases, in alignment with – making profits. And it works. A study from BlackRock showed over 90% of ESG shareholder proposals which garner over 50% support from shareholders are fully implemented.

2022 looks like it is on track to be a record year for shareholder proposals, with environmental and social issues a key driver. We’ve already seen Apple investors demand a civil rights audit. Soon Pfizer and Moderna shareholders will vote on whether they should share vaccine technology to get more lifesaving doses to poorer countries. When Amazon meets later this spring, at least 17 shareholder proposals will be on the table, covering areas like plastics use, pay gaps, paid sick leave, and the use of facial recognition technology.

Even outside of formal annual meetings, investor pressure on companies to act responsibly continues to build. For example, the responses of many organizations to the war in Ukraine are being scrutinized to a degree we’ve rarely witnessed before, and, as discussed in last week’s edition, investor demand has propelled the SEC to force firms to come clean about their role in climate change.

If you’re interested in learning about how you can exercise your proxy power as a shareholder, we have a quick explainer – and make sure to keep reading FWIW for more insights, analysis, and updates.

News you can use

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  • Nice guys (and girls) finish last deliver higher profitability, higher workforce engagement, and lower levels of corporate risk. That’s the research finding behind the new ROC (Return on Character) ETF focused on the behavior of CEOs and senior execs. A little over 100 companies made the cut – see them here.
  • The Biden administration wants to ensure shortages don’t slow down the clean energy and electric vehicle trend. The president is reportedly considering invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up domestic output of critical minerals used in large batteries. Related funds like Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (LIT) and Amplify Lithium & Battery Technology ETF (BATT) are charged up on the news.
  • McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Kroger are being confronted by investors about the treatment of pigs in their supply chains. Despite the burger chain’s best efforts to exclude it, a shareholder proposal about gestation crates will come up at Wendy’s next annual meeting. Meanwhile, billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who first targeted McDonald’s on this issue, has now turned his attention to Kroger.

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