Wespath Leads Historic Shareholder Resolution with Oil and Gas Giants

From the October 2017 issue of Hark!

Engagement is the heart of Wespath’s sustainable investment activities. Shareholder engagement influences companies’ policies and activities. Most engagement efforts occur behind the scenes through in-person meetings (or conference calls) with company executives. Other efforts are more public, like letters to public policymakers or filing shareholder resolutions, on which investors vote at companies’ annual general meetings.

In May 2017, shareholders witnessed a historic moment in investor engagement. For the first time ever, the majority of shareholders at two major U.S. oil and gas companies—Occidental Petroleum and ExxonMobil—supported shareholder resolutions asking each company for a yearly evaluation of how global initiatives to tackle climate change will impact the company's business and resilience. These resolutions essentially say, “The world is moving to cleaner sources of energy. How are you preparing?”

Wespath led the resolution at Occidental—which passed with 67% investor support—and collaborated closely with colleagues at the financial arm of the Church of England regarding Exxon, which received 62% support. In the past, environmentally-focused resolutions received approximately 20% support, so the 2017 results at these two companies signal a very significant shift in investor concern about climate change.

In announcing the vote, Occidental’s chairman spoke directly to Wespath and committed to responding to the concerns of its shareholders.

As a steward of $22 billion in assets, Wespath has a unique opportunity to bring the UMC voice to the table in support of positive change for people and the planet.

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