How institutional investors voted on ESG matters last year

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The proxy solicitor Georgeson has released its “2022 Investor Voting Report,” which includes the stats of how institutional investors voted on items on the ballots of public companies last year as well as analysis and commentary. Here’s an excerpt:

In 2022, 15 environmentally-focused shareholder proposals received majority support at companies in the Russell 3000. The overall passage rate (15 out of the 60 proposals passed that went to a vote) is, slightly lower when compared to 2021. Rather than fully attributing this decline to weakened support from institutional investors, the passage rate decrease can be more likely attributed to heightened ambitions of some proponents this year, which is indicative of the amount of proposals discussing scope 3 emissions.

Of the largest institutional holders we examined, Northern Trust and Wellington Asset Management were most likely to support the 60 environmentally-focused shareholder proposals, voting for or splitting their vote on the overwhelming majority of proposals, 93% (56 out of 60) and 88% (51 out of 58) respectively. Norges Bank supported just over half of the proposals voted (33 out of 53) while State Street Global Advisors support was shy of 50% (26 out of 60), abstaining from 1/6 of the remaining proposals.

Notably, of the 15 proposals that passed, State Street Global Advisors voted for 12 of them and abstained from 2. BlackRock voted in support of just over 1/3 of the proposals that went to vote (22 out of 60). Of those proposals receiving majority support, BlackRock supported 13 of the 15 that passed. Vanguard (14 out of 60) and Fidelity (17 out of 60) each roughly supported around 25% of the proposals that went to a vote.