Mercy Investment Services, Boston Trust Walden and other investors have been actively involved for a number of years urging major investment firms to improve their proxy voting records especially on shareholder resolutions focused on climate change. This year investors filed resolutions and engaged a dozen companies including filing shareholder resolutions with companies like BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, T. Rowe Price, and Vanguard. Mercy Investment Services was lead filer with BlackRock.
Recently Larry Fink, BlackRock’s CEO, sent a letter to companies and clients outlining their new position on climate change. It described the climate risk companies and investors faced, noted the expectations they had for companies in which they invested and announced they would be voting against boards with unacceptable climate positions.
Mercy Investment Services and Boston Trust Walden led a dialogue with the company to learn more about this new position and the implications for votes on shareholder resolutions in the 2020 proxy season. This lead to an agreement to continue a dialogue including a summer discussion focusing on 2020 votes on climate and an opportunity to provide feedback to the company. Based on our agreement, we withdrew the shareholder resolution for this year. We are hopeful that Blackrock’s voting and engagements will be an effective catalyst stimulating positive company changes on climate. Clearly investors and clients globally will be closely monitoring BlackRock’s proxy voting performance on climate to ensure their statements are translated into action.