Gary R. Matthews
Important Announcement: Please see https://www.sriinvesting.com/yourstake-shareholder-advocacy in conjunction with this blog.
Shareholder advocacy is a valuable and particularly influential part of SRI. This is the process by which investors who own stock in a company express their opinions and values directly with the company through proxy resolutions, mailings and other communications, and negotiation. Recently, my friend Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Funds*, visited me in New York. I’ve long been a fan of Green Century because of their commitment to shareholder advocacy, and Leslie and I talked about some of their current efforts and achievements.
Here’s just a brief sampling:
Plastic Pollution: Pressed companies, including Proctor & Gamble*, to reduce their use of plastic packaging and single-use plastics, such as straws and bags.**
Climate Change: Convinced Aramark*, one of the world’s largest food service providers, to develop and fully implement a no-deforestation commitment that reduces carbon pollution across its global supply chain.
Clean Energy: Convinced Verizon Communications, Inc.* to commit to source 50% of its energy from renewables by 2025.
Toxic Chemicals: Secured an agreement from Bed Bath & Beyond* to take steps to reduce toxic chemicals in its supply chain.
Tropical Forests: Helped secure a zero-deforestation policy from Kellogg,* which now gathers 99.5% of its palm oil from sources certified as sustainable.
When you own stock in a company, you have a voice. You have influence with that company, and you have power. You have a stake. But until now, expressing that voice loudly enough to be heard has taken more time, expertise, and resources than most investors can expend. SRI Investing works with First Affirmative each year to enable some of our clients to be actively involved in this advocacy work. Now, however, we are able to make that process more easily available to more of our clients.
SRI Investing is introducing Stake, to our clients and to all other investors who might be interested. Stake is a new company founded by two young college grad social entrepreneurs who wanted to encourage all investors, particularly SRI investors, to make use of the power they already have.
When you log in to Stake, you have the opportunity to match your stock portfolio with various shareholder initiatives regarding the companies you own. These initiatives are called Asks, literally asking a company to change, eliminate, or adopt a business practice that might improve the company’s accountability to its shareholders, customers, the communities in which it does business, and to the natural world. In addition to participating in the Asks of other investors, you can create your own Asks for placement on the Stake platform.
Asks that gather a certain threshold of support are “championed.” Stake Champions take the Ask directly to company management, advocating on behalf of all those who supported the Ask. Champions are experienced SRI financial professionals who know how to get a company’s attention. Your voice gets heard. When large numbers of investors meet with companies directly, ramping up intensity over time, companies often respond by changing their practices for the better. Stake provides you with progress updates so you can keep track of how your Asks are doing.
Learn more about Stake at https://www.sriinvesting.com/yourstake-shareholder-advocacy. As an SRI investor, you have a stake. We can help you use it!
*Mention of specific companies does not constitute a recommendation to invest. See your financial advisor for specific investment advice.
**Plastics are literally forming islands in our oceans (see The Ocean Cleanup at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du5d5PUrH0I).