Agenda – What ESG Backlash? Proposal Deluge to Continue

“Deluge” is a pretty strong word for only 26 proposals that receive majority vote, but other than that hyperbole, Agenda’s. assessment is valuable.

Though average support for E+S proposals declined somewhat year over year (from 30% in 2021 to 26% in 2022), because of the higher-than-normal submission rate, the number that passed this year, 26, was higher than last year’s count, 23, according to The Conference Board data.

Average support for the proposals that passed was also elevated compared to 2020 and 2019.Experts said the divergence speaks to the quality of proposals — those that got majority backing tended to be carefully targeted to the company or have a modest ask, such as a report from the board. Those that did not tended to be more prescriptive in their demands.

In other cases, panelists said, spurious proposals were counted in the E+S bucket because they merely included some E+S keywords, thereby dragging overall average support levels down when they didn’t get a lot of backing. Both trends make the somewhat lower average support rate for E+S proposals this year deceptive.

“I think it’s going to be very important not to take the decline in support as the beginning of a trend,” said Linda Scott, managing director and associate corporate secretary at JPMorgan Chase, speaking on the webcast. Scott noted that she was sharing her own views and not speaking on behalf of the bank.“I think shareholder proponents are doing the same debriefing that we’re doing right now. The proposals next year — they’ll be smarter and they won’t fall into the traps that some of them fell into this year.”

Agenda – What ESG Backlash? Proposal Deluge to Continue

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