Joint shareholder engagement with 105 companies. Focus on climate change, human rights and tax transparency.
Aurélie Baudhuin, president of SfC: «In 2021 we continued to be a driver of innovation in the engagement with companies, governments and asset managers. SfC confirms itself as a boutique for all-round engagement»
SfC – Shareholders for Change, European network for investor engagement founded in 2017, released its engagement report 2021 in Paris today, during its online winter meeting. The 13 members of the network, with a total of over €30bn AUM, have jointly engaged 105 companies, one country and a sovereign wealth fund, most of them in Europe, filing resolutions and voting at annual general meetings (AGMs) or asking questions in conference calls and via mail.
Most questions were on climate change, human rights and tax transparency, the three main areas of engagement for SfC. While most engagement initiatives (71%) are still ongoing, 27% of them were completed with success, while 2% were not successful, because companies did not cooperate.
«2021 was the second year in which it wasn’t possible to physically attend meetings with companies, due to the Covid-19 pandemic», said Aurélie Baudhuin, president of SfC and deputy general manager of Meeschaert AM, one of the founding members. «Nevertheless, we have been able to confirm our pioneering role as a network, experimenting new issues in the dialogue with companies, governments and asset managers. Particularly significant was the successful engagement with the government of Namibia, from whom we received written assurance that they have decided to accede to the Biological Weapons Convention. Or the commitments of companies, following our engagement on forced labour risk in the information and communication technology sector».
For the first time, SfC’s engagement report measures the network’s achievements by estimating the degree to which the goals that were set have been reached. «In most cases, corporations and institutions have been cooperative», continues Aurélie Baudhuin. «A third of them already did or committed to do, at least partly, what we requested, indicating a precise timeline».
In 2021, the majority (37%) of SfC’s engagement initiatives have been focussed on climate-related issues, in particular through ‘Say on Climate’ and ‘Just Transition’ strategies, achieving encouraging results with Nestlé, Holcim and a number of European utilities, such as SSE, Scottish Power, EDF, E-On or Centrica. Other companies, like the oil&gas group Eni or the fashion giant H&M, refused to include a ‘Say on Climate’ vote in their AGM agenda.
SfC winter meeting, spanning over two days, was meant to be held in Paris, hosted by two of the network’s French members: Ecofi and Sanso IS. The whole agenda has been shifted online due to the Covid-19 emergency, including a training session focussed on climate related issues in the financial sector, held by Lucie Pinson of the French NGO Reclaim Finance and a collaborative dialogue with BMW on sustainable supply chain management.