Members of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment are socially responsible investors who also engage corporations on social, environmental and corporate governance concerns. In the United States and in varying degrees internationally, investors in publicly owned companies are part owners of the corporation. This ownership provides certain rights such as annually voting a proxy and raising concerns before management and the Board of Directors. In the last few decades a growing number of shareholders have participated in a variety of strategies.
Each year, publicly owned companies are required to publish for their shareholders an annual report. This includes the financial accounting from the last fiscal year and a report on the status of the business. Included in this mailing is the announcement of the Annual Meeting and proxy statement. In addition, there are a variety of proposals that are presented to shareholders for a vote. Typically shareholders are asked to vote for nominees for the Board of Directors, public accountants, and additional proposals that may be presented by either management or shareholders. Often members look for a certain diversity on the Board of Directors and other corporate governance concerns, and consider if they support or reject the other proposals. Proxy voting is a clear and easy way to demonstrate your positions on a variety. Socially responsible investors insure that their voice is counted, by voting their proxies.
Tri-CRI offers a service to institutional members as well as individuals to vote your proxies in a just manner. Contact
for more information.
Priorities and concerns are typically expressed in an investment policy. Often an individual or institution will identify certain products or business sectors that they do not want to support and will direct a financial manager to exclude such stocks. Historically, “sin stocks” alcohol, tobacco and gambling, were excluded from portfolios. Investors may also identify business practices or products that they want to seek out as investments. Progressive labor policies and investment in renewable energy are examples of “positive” screens.
Communication with the Company
Investors often have concerns about corporate practices. Initial letters of inquiry attempt to access information regarding issues. Very often this will satisfy investors or will result in a meeting that will provide additional information.
Filing Shareholder Resolutions
At times corporations will not adequately disclose information, or such information will raise additional concerns. Filing a shareholder resolution outlines the concerns of the stockholder and asks for a certain action by the company or Board of Directors. In other circumstances, while communications may continue, a shareholder proposal is filed simply to secure additional exchanges or keep the concerns before all shareholders. A shareholder resolution must be no more than 500 words and avoid suggestions of “ordinary business”. A legal “filing letter” and verification that the shareholder(s) own at least $2,000 worth of stock must accompany the resolution. A proposal presented by a shareholder is typically non-binding. A successful shareholder resolution garners 3% of the vote the first year, 6% the second and 10% in subsequent years in order to considered for another year.
Substantial work can be accomplished in corporate dialogues. When Tri-State CRI and ICCR members meet with management in a dialogue format it often becomes clear to the company that these parties are critical stakeholders with both concerns and expertise not readily available within the corporation. Enabled by the format of a confidential dialogue, Tri-State CRI and ICCR members have been able to raise difficult and challenging concerns in a atmosphere of trust. While not all companies have this experience, a growing number of corporations look to use this dialogical process to address concerns. Many refer to this as an “insider strategy” as contrasted by typical “outsider strategies” that may include demonstrations, boycotts, etc. These strategies compliment each other. Corporate dialogues have at times been less publicly confrontative and more successful when other methods have failed.
Annual Stockholder Meetings
Shareholders who have a resolution before the company must present the resolution in person or by proxy. This is an opportunity to address concerns before the Board of Directors, management and other stakeholders.