Timed to the 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) season, shareholder advocacy non-profit As You Sow filed seven shareholder resolutions, on behalf of individual proponents, that specifically requested material disclosure compliant with environmental and social corporate reporting standards published by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). SASB standards are explicitly designed to reflect financially material aspects of corporate behavior as it pertains to sustainability topics. Large investment advisors have committed to SASB, even to the extent that BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors, the world’s largest and third-largest asset managers, announced in January that they would use SASB disclosure to frame their proxy voting policies.
Resolutions calling for SASB disclosure should be expected to enjoy widespread support from both investors and corporate managements. Indeed, the results produced by these resolutions have suggested that this is the case. The seven resolutions addressed climate-related water usage risks in the semiconductor and food processing industries, and human capital risks such as diversity and fair labor practices in the specialty retailers and distributors industry. One was withdrawn on a technicality. Of the other six, two received commitments to implement and were withdrawn, one was fully implemented after a shareholder vote of 11%, and the remaining three earned overwhelming shareholder support, of 61%, 66%, and 79% approval. This post comprises an analysis of these resolutions and speculates on the general potential for SASB-based resolutions to act as game-changers for corporate accountability.A Successful Season for SASB-Based Shareholder Resolutions