Sustainability Oversight and Disclosure - Proxy Voting

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As noted above, investors’ efforts to get large mutual fund companies to incorporate ESG metrics into their proxy voting policies seems to be bearing some fruit, although Ceres still finds much room for improvement, in a report on the 2017 proxy season issued in December about mutual fund voting patterns.

In 2018, proposals with slight variations were submitted to three firms, asking each to report “on proxy voting and climate change.” Walden’s resolution is new at Cohen & Steers, but a resubmission at Bank of New York, where it earned 6.5 percent last year. At T. Rowe Price Group, Zevin withdrew after the company told the SEC it concerns ordinary business since it relates to its investment management practices, core to its business. The withdrawal came before any SEC response, but Zevin said it would continue dialogue and observed that the firm has improved its ESG disclosures and now pays more attention to ESG proxy voting; Zevin wants to see more transparency and a timeline for action. The proposal was a resubmission that earned 9 percent in 2017 and 8.5 percent in 2016.