At Chicory Wealth our goal is “Integrating Money and Meaning,” a broad and powerful statement that can be interpreted in a number of ways. On a personal level it can mean developing a healthy relationship with your money, so it can be used to promote balance, security, and joy in your life. On a broader level it can mean using money to support the things you believe are important in the larger community. Our March blog post focused on several strategies for doing just that: using finances for social impact. Today we’re going to delve just a little more deeply into one of those strategies: shareholder advocacy.
Shareholder advocacy means influencing the management of a corporation by owning stocks in that corporation and voting on resolutions as a shareholder. Before you dismiss this as a strategy only for people with extreme wealth and loads of time and energy for research and voting, read on. You might be surprised.
Let’s start with an example. Let’s say you’re becoming more and more concerned about climate change. You have reason to be concerned; evidence shows that the world is warming and weather patterns are being disrupted, which threatens our safety, our communities, and our livelihoods. Evidence also shows that this threat is mostly human-made, a large percentage from the fossil fuels industry. According to Corporate Accountability, just 100 corporations are responsible for 71% of greenhouse emissions.
A lot of us automatically think, “But as an individual, I can’t possibly have any sway against a huge corporation like, say, Exxon Mobil.” But actually, you can. Organizations like Corporate Accountability, mentioned above, are working to bring important resolutions to the shareholders of companies like Exxon Mobil to influence their work and policies. An example resolution in this case might be to ask the business to minimize emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. When enough shareholders come together to support such a resolution, change happens. Think of the changes that have happened with the tobacco industry!
It is possible to buy just a few shares in a corporation to have voting rights as a shareholder, and to purchase those shares in as little as 30 days before a resolution vote. And you don’t have to go to a huge shareholder meeting to cast your vote if you don’t want to. You can vote on line or by mail or have a proxy vote for you. In fact, many of our clients have asked our advisors to vote proxy for them, making the process that much easier.
Shareholder advocacy is just one example of the actions organizations like Corporate Accountability promote to influence corporations. I suggest you take a look at their website to find out more. And if the idea of shareholder advocacy has piqued your interest, let’s talk.
Photo above by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash