Change In Proxy Voting As Major Asset Owners Accept Esg As Part Of Fiduciary Duty

Each year, investors file approximately 800 shareholder resolutions. In 2018, more than 450 proposals focused on environmental and social issues. For a significant portion of these resolutions, companies and proponents reached agreements and the proponents withdrew. But nearly 180 proposals went to a vote.

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Proxy Vote Data Complements Fund Ratings On Sustainability

Recent Morningstar research shows that the number and size of U.S. sustainability funds continues to grow.  Notable recent additions include sustainable exchange traded funds (ETFs).  Within this universe is a wide variation in strategies and commitment—from considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) alongside other factors, to integrating ESG in the investment process, to impact and green economy-focused funds.

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Scandal Plagued Facebook Needs Independent Board Chair

Mark Zuckerberg is both the CEO and Chairman of the Board at Facebook and because of his 60 percent voting power, he is, for all intents and purposes, accountable only to himself. Corporate governance experts and the Council of Institutional Investors have argued for years that an independent chair is vastly superior because that person is free of conflicts created by a chair who can excessively influence the rest of the board and its agenda. An independent chair is better able to monitor the management of the company on behalf of its shareholders and we see the structure virtually everywhere. For example, the percentage of S&P 500 companies with a unified CEO/chairman is at a decadal low of 45.6 percent. Leading technology companies like Apple, Alphabet, Autodesk, Microsoft and Intel all have independent chairmen.

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The Link Between Higher Drug Prices And Executive Pay

Prescription drug expenditures make up nearly 20 percent of all health care costs, and spending for prescription drugs is growing faster than any other part of the health care dollar. A Kaiser Health Tracking Poll in early 2018 found that one out of four patients have a difficult time affording their medicines. December 2018 POLITICO poll showed the public’s top priority for the 116th Congress is taking action to lower prescription drug prices.

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Majority Support For Disclosure Of Opioid Financial Risk

Since mid-2017, Investors for Opioid Accountability (IOA), a coalition founded by Mercy Investment Services and the UAW Retirees Medical Benefits Trust, has become the leading shareholder force in the fight against the opioid epidemic ravaging the United States.  It now represents 54 investors with more than $3.5 trillion in assets under management.  In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, the most ever in a single year. Of the 700,000 American deaths from drug overdoses since 1999, more than two-thirds were from opioids and many involved prescription opioids.

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The Growing Regulatory Risk Of Modern Slavery In Global Supply Chains

Globally, it is estimated that over 40 million people living in situations of modern slavery. Approximately 16 million people are in forced labor in the private economy, in mines, factories and fields harvesting raw materials and manufacturing products for global supply chains. Over the past few years, revelations of modern slavery conditions have been traced to the supply chains of major corporations, from smartphones produced with forced child labor in the DRC, to seafood caught by trafficked migrant workers in Thailand.

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“Keep It Secret” Policies Enable Cultures Of Harassment And Discrimination

Thanks to Tarana Burke’s Me Too movement, TIME’S UP and others, it’s no longer possible to ignore the devastating impacts of discrimination, harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. In the business world, we’ve seen many alleged harassers removed from positions of power. But while Les Moonves and his ilk may be gone, it’s not always clear whether companies are taking steps to eliminate not just the alleged harassers, but the policies and practices that helped shield them from accountability in the first place. 

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Facebook Investors Press For Content Governance

News of Cambridge Analytica’s misappropriation of millions of Facebook users’ data preceded a decline in Facebook’s stock market capitalization of over $100 billion in March 2018. Another 100 billion plus decline in market value—a record-setting drop—came in July 2018 after Facebook’s quarterly earnings report reflected increasing costs and decreasing revenue growth.

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