What Do Shareholders Propose?

SquareWell pens a bespoke article for Harvard based on its inaugural edition of “What do Shareholders Propose“, a comprehensive review of all shareholder proposals related to "ESG” topics in Europe and the US for 2022 and 2023 16 April 2024 What Do Shareholders Propose?

The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance recently published the inaugural issue of “What do Shareholders Propose,” a detailed examination of shareholder proposals focusing on environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) themes in both Europe and the US for the years 2022 and 2023. The publication, authored by SquareWell, delves into “ESG”-related proposals, including those opposing “ESG”, commonly referred to as the “Anti-ESG” movement. It aims to shed light on how these shareholder proposals are presented and voted on during annual general meetings of companies listed in the S&P 500 and STOXX Europe 600 indices. 2023 marked a notable increase in such shareholder proposals, highlighting an 8% year-on-year rise, yet also showing a decline in the rate of adoption, especially within S&P 500 companies where it halved to 5.4%.

The research also underscores a significant rise in “Anti-ESG” proposals within the US, increasing by 64% in 2023, which starkly contrasts the trends seen in Europe where proposal numbers and shareholder support remained stable. Early data from 2024 indicates a potential reversal in these trends, with a notable decrease in proposals during the first four months. The report is comprehensive and offers insights into the sector-specific nature of environmental and social proposals and the evolving nature of shareholder activism in response to current societal challenges and regulatory landscapes. To access the full  post and gain a better understanding of the complex dynamics shaping shareholder proposals on “ESG” topics, click here.


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