AUM in Action

US Managers Challenged on Climate, Diversity Voting

Investors have filed resolutions asking major US asset managers to review and improve their voting record and practices on climate and diversity. The resolutions cite declining support by BlackRock, State Street, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan for shareholder proposals during the 2023 proxy voting season. They argue that the firms’ voting records ignore material financial risks as well as being inconsistent with international agreements, their own public commitments and memberships of investor initiatives – such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investment – and prevailing definitions of stewardship. The asset owners behind the resolutions are all members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of more than 300 institutional investors with more than US$4 trillion AUM. The resolutions ask directors to initiate reviews of climate and diversity voting and policies, which should cover alignment with international agreements, industry initiatives and internal policies, comparisons with peers, and recommendations to strengthen guidelines. Both as clients and shareholders we have been engaging and encouraging asset managers to recognise their fiduciary duty, highlighting the economic costs of ignoring climate and racial justice and building the business case for responsible stewardship for years now. We want to see them acting on these commitments through their proxy voting not just talking about them,” said Tim Smith, Senior Policy Advisor at the ICCR.

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